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Ocean’s Twelve

July 31, 2007

Blimey, but the early-afternoon, mid-week, half-term crowd are an ugly bunch. Fortunately most of them had had their Retalin shots, but there was enough Kappa ‘sports’ wear in the place to open a JJB store.

What price peace, then, during a Steven Soderbergh stylish art-fest? Well, normally you’d imagine zip, but Ocean’s Twelve (that title so doesn’t work) is a different suitcase of bananas, being as it is a sequel to the crowd-friendly Clooney/Pitt pairing heist movie of a couple of years ago. We’re promised that this film will be – predictably – smarter/funnier/slicker/sexier/whateverer – than the last one, a movie I actually rather enjoyed despite a whole bag full of prejudices, not least, well, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, if I’m honest. And…no, I’m sorry, but I can’t concur with yer typical tabloid Paul-not-Jonathan-Ross-style review. This isn’t smarter or funnier or slicker or sexier than Ocean’s 11, probably because it’s too busy being dumb, unfunny, clunking and excruciatingly embarrassing.

It starts off, admirably enough, by not simply re-making the first film. Good, good start. Although not really, because the first film at least had the classic heist movie elements all in place (guy comes out of prison, impossible job comes along, gets his team together, resolves job, twist), whereas this stumbles along towards a new location – Amsterdam, then Rome, rather than Vegas – and a couple of not at all exhilarating or audacious jobs. When Catherine Zeta Jones turns up – Pitt’s ex-squeeze and now a phenomenally unlikely Europol copper – the team become compromised and begin squabbling and, oh, lots of knowing little in-jokes start to bubble up to the surface as the whole thing descends into a series of comic vignettes. Don Cheadle, roundly panned for his worse-than-Van-Dyke gorblimey cockney accent in the last film bangs on about (hoho) accents, Clooney becomes insecure about his looks and…Lord it’s just too painful. The bar is only raised, and briefly at that, by the introduction of Vincent Cassel as a foppish egomaniac French cat burglar dubbed ‘The Nightfox’, a flawed genius with the thinnest skin of anyone on the planet. Cassel clearly doesn’t mind playing up to the Gallic stereotype as anyone who saw his wonderfully camp and pompous Duc d’Anjou in Elizabeth will recall. He’s terrific, but only on the screen for a few moment (he also provides the one instant of serious heist action when dancing his way around a room full of movement-sensor lasers, not worth the price of admission, but a treat nevertheless).

But then ‘it’ happens. The thing that loses you, that makes you switch off, the thing that you may have already heard about if you’ve read any other reviews. I still can’t believe it, but trust me…

With most of the crew in chokey (and all in the same big cell, of course, for comedic purposes) it’s left to Matt Damon and his two buddies to go through with the job – stealing the original gold Faberg√© egg. This involves dragging Julia Roberts across the Atlantic to help out, as a distraction in a simple con. And why does the Julia Roberts character provide such a distraction in an Italian museum? Because [shakes head at the horror of it all] she is able to impersonate…Julia Roberts. She looks like her, see.

Yes, I know. That’s what I thought, too.

It gets worse. As Julia Roberts (playing ‘Julia Roberts’) walks through a posh Italian hotel who should she pass but Bruce Willis (that’s the real Bruce Willis, not Bruce Willis playing ‘Bruce Willis’)…with hilarious consequences!

And it goes on…it’s not just a throwaway thing, but a half-hour Music Hall routine that just gets worse and worse and worse. I crumpled into a ball in my seat, embarrassed for them, but soon realised that I was paying to see this shit, and they were being paid to perform it. She looks like Julia Roberts, she looks like Julia Roberts, she looks like Julia Roberts?! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

It’s a mess, a turkey, a great big steaming bag of cack, parading around with a smug grin and a smart suit and silk shirt, but it’s still a bag of cack despite the designer label.

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