out of Five
Running time: 110
Badly thought-out sequel with an appalling script and several half-hearted performances – you’ll have more fun watching the original again.
Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 hit Ocean’s 11 might not have been a great movie, but it had two things going for it: firstly, it was better than the Rat Pack original and secondly, it was a lot of fun to watch, thanks to the interplay between the to-die-for cast, a great soundtrack and some stylish direction by Soderbergh.
No Interest In A Sequel Eh?
Around the time of its release, co-stars Pitt, Clooney and Damon, along with Soderbergh, all gave interviews saying that they had no interest in making a sequel. Clearly they had forgotten to check their contracts, because Soderbergh has reunited the entire cast for this lacklustre follow-up. Frankly, you know you’re in trouble when Catherine Zeta-Jones is the best thing in your movie.
The plot picks up around three years after the events of the first film. Someone has ratted the ‘Eleven’ out to Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia, sadly wasted this time round) and he wants his money back, with interest. Not wanting to get blown to bits, they relocate to Europe where they plan a series of heists in order to repay their debt.
However, things don’t quite go according to plan and they soon find themselves up against jealous master thief The Night Fox (Vincent Cassel), who issues them with a high-stakes challenge. To make matters worse, foxy Interpol agent Catherine Zeta-Jones is hot on their trail, a development that’s complicated by the fact that she happens to be Rusty’s (Brad Pitt) ex-girlfriend…
Three years ago, Ocean’s 11 had an infectious sense of fun to it and Soderbergh’s stylish direction kept things moving so that you were never bored. This time around, however, something has gone horribly wrong. The cast are still enjoying themselves, only this time it was obviously a lot more fun to make than it is to watch. It’s also shockingly self-indulgent, to the point where it’s actually embarrassing, as opposed to the relative subtlety of the jokes in the previous film.
What’s worse is that the throwaway jokes (such as Tess’s - Julia Roberts - resemblance to a certain movie star) are actually incorporated into the plot and the result is neither as clever nor as funny as everyone seems to think, although it does allow for a crowd-pleasing cameo. (If you’re planning on seeing it, avoid all press coverage, because this is the only decent joke in the film).
Woefully Misguided Plot
The film also isn’t helped by the combination of a woefully misguided plot and an appalling script. It’s as if Soderbergh threw out everything that made the first film fun – we don’t even get to see the heists planned and executed properly because Soderbergh is too busy faffing around with pointless, unfunny cameos by Eddie Izzard and Robbie Coltrane. In addition, the climax of the film is incredibly disappointing and relies on a piece of information that the audience had no way of knowing in advance, so you come away feeling cheated, as opposed to admiring the skill of the con in the first film.
Another fault is that Clooney himself takes a backseat this time round. This is a mistake, as the interplay between Clooney and Pitt was a key ingredient last time round. In its place, we have the ‘romance’ between Pitt and Zeta-Jones’s characters and to be fair, these are the film’s strongest scenes. Zeta-Jones is particularly impressive, giving one of her best performances to date – she also has surprisingly good chemistry with Pitt.
Of the other actors, hardly anyone is given anything interesting to do, so at least six of the ‘Eleven’ just stand around looking bored. As a result, the only stand-outs are Matt Damon (who IS given a little more to do this time round – another of the film’s running jokes) and Elliot Gould, with special mention to Don Cheadle and his horrendous cock-er-ney accent, which hasn’t improved since the first film. As for the direction, Soderbergh amuses himself with freeze-frames and other camera tricks but the material isn’t there to back it up so it never works the way it should.
In short, this is a very poor sequel indeed and if it weren’t for its all-star cast it would be nigh-on unwatchable. You’ll have a lot more fun watching the first film again or, failing that, planning and executing a heist of your own.