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Ocean's Twelve

Pure Frat Pack Fun

Directed (and shot under the pseudonym Peter Andrews) by Stephen Soderbergh, Ocean's Twelve plays like a special edition of Hollywood Insider meets Topkapi (Jules Dassin's 1964 ironic multi-culti caper flick), willfully devoid of plausible plot or character developments, yet playfully true in spirit to the original Ocean's Eleven that inspired the prequel to this film.

Rumor has it that the cast of Ocean's Twelve had a blast while filming on location in Europe, taking over the streets of Amsterdam and Rome just like Frank, Dean, Sammy et al ruled the Vegas strip during the production of the Rat Pack original, and much of their flair for self-implicating riffs, pranks, and fun comes across on the screen, inviting audiences to sit back and enjoy the film's haphazard revelry in touristy locales and absurd heist scenarios.

Ocean's Twelve picks up some three years after Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his crew emptied the vaults of the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Someone has tipped off fleeced casino boss Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) about the whereabouts of the scattered eleven. Forced out of retirement by Benedict's ultimatum to return the loot (plus interest) within two weeks or be killed, the reunited gang (who is still "too hot" to pull off anything big stateside) heads to Amsterdam and Rome hoping to collect enough money to pay back their debt to Benedict. Along the way, they cross paths with a French gentlemen thief (Vincent Cassel), who challenges Ocean to a contest to see who is the greatest thief in the world, and a drop-dead gorgeous Europol agent (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is still nursing a few bad feelings about the way ex-boyfriend Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) ran out on her three years ago -- the night before she was going to bust him for a jewelry heist.

Like its prequel, Ocean's Twelve coasts on cool. Competently spiked with breezy banter and self-conscious humor and cut to the noisy beat of an original jazzy, retro new wave soundtrack, the film never takes itself seriously. Don't even try to figure out the logistics involved in the pseudo-old-school heists, let alone dive for meaning underneath the film's glossy surface. What you see is what you get -- a bunch of gorgeous A-list celebs goofing off in beautiful locations at an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe. Ocean's Twelve doesn't pretend to be anything else but a reunion of an ensemble cast who like to hang out with each other while entertaining their audiences -- and viewers shouldn't either.

3 out of 5 stars