Master thief Danny Ocean and his crew have been enjoying the fruits of their $160 million heist from a Vegas casino (glorified in Ocean’s Eleven), but suddenly each of them gets a visit from the owner of that casino threatening death if he does not get his money back in two weeks—with interest.
Of course, being the live-for-today kind of guys Ocean's 11 are, all but one have blown through most of their millions. They need money fast, but they’re so hot they can never work in the States again. So, they reason, why not steal the money they need from the Europeans?
The task takes them to Amsterdam, where Europol police detective Isabel Lahiri quickly latches onto their trail. (In one of several plot improbabilities, it turns out that Detective Lahiri and Danny Ocean’s right-hand man, Rusty Ryan, have a past.) Ocean’s crew also find themselves in the middle of a turf war with another mysterious master thief who goes by the nom de guerre Night Fox.
As the unfolding confidence game careens from Amsterdam to Paris to Rome, Ocean tries to coordinate an impossible heist while staying one step ahead of everyone—the cops, rival robbers and the ruthless casino owner.
I can derive only one positive lesson, and that through a negative example: In her zeal to nail the thieves, Detective Lahiri takes an ethical shortcut, forging the signature of an uncooperative police official. That momentary lapse proves to be her undoing, and it illuminates the fact that even seemingly small compromises can have big consequences.
A man seeks advice from a palm reader. Later he says, “I cannot predict the future. I pay professionals to do that, and even they get it wrong sometimes.” Playing himself, Topher Grace complains that Kabbalah teachings aren't helping him like he's been told they would. A minister officiates at a funeral.
Isabel lies in bed in a skimpy nightgown. Rusty, fully clothed, sits on the bed to kiss her. Many women wear tight-fitting, low-cut or otherwise skimpy outfits. The camera looks up a woman's (very) short skirt as she climbs a staircase. A comedian tells a sex joke that involves his mom. Joshing a comrade about not being very good at speaking in code, Rusty informs him that he just called another man's grade school-age niece a whore. Nude statues adorn several scenes.
A car explodes and flies into the air. Several men engage in a diversionary fistfight on a train. A police officer pulls a gun on Ocean.
Crude or Profane Language
About a dozen f-words. (One is left uncensored; the rest are partially "bleeped" with the sound of a stridently ringing telephone.) A rap recording is heard that contains a slew of bleeps. Add to that an s-word and a handful of milder profanities. The British epithet "bloody" is used once. Jesus' name is abused five times; God's at least 10 times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
The aftermath of a party features many empty and half-empty bottles of booze and wine. Champagne is consumed during a celebration. Men drink wine to get drunk. Cigarettes and cigars (even a pipe) appear in numerous scenes. The casino owner and another man both seem to be glued to their cigars.
Other Negative Elements
Bent on spending every penny of his stolen money, a man says, “I want the last check I write to bounce.” A police officer knows her boyfriend is a crook, but she doesn’t arrest him. A man is made to look like a fool for having misgivings about stealing from a psychologically handicapped person. The film closes with a series of close-ups of playing cards and poker chips.
A not-very-good sequel to 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven, itself a remake of the 1960 caper flick starring Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, Ocean’s Twelve drops all pretense of justifying grand larceny. In the '01 version, it was “good” crooks robbing a really bad crook. Here they’re in it primarily to save their own skins when that really bad crook decides to get revenge. But they don’t let that get in the way of their egos and pride—never mind greed.
Setting aside for a moment the atrocious moral message of the 2001 film, it at least did a good job of capturing the artistic tone of the 1960 version, both with its ultra-cool musical score and its snappy dialogue. Comparatively, Ocean’s Twelve falls flat on its Botox-injected face. And it contains so many leaps of logic and improbable plot developments (not to mention several unanswered questions) that by the end you’re left shaking your head in confusion. (If you're still awake.)
Even knowing that, people will still flock to see it. So what is it about heist films that makes them so popular? Stephen Hunter wrote in his New York Times review of The Italian Job, “As is often the case with the caper genre, the criminals are painted as likable rogues whom you’re encouraged to champion simply because they're good at what they do.” That’s certainly true with Ocean’s Twelve, which does all of that and more, upping the charm ante with a cast crammed with A-listers.
In the end the crooks get away with their crime—not just with their skin intact, but with bundles of booty and villas on the Côte d’Azure. The final scene shows Danny Ocean’s crew yukking it up in luxury with expensive cigars and flowing champagne. And who joins them? None other than Detective Lahiri, who apparently decides she’d rather live with “likable rogues” than enforce the law—a real crime of a moral.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Brad Pitt as Rusty Ryan; Catherine Zeta-Jones as Isabel Lahiri; George Clooney as Danny Ocean; Julia Roberts as Tess Ocean; Matt Damon as Linus Caldwell; Andy Garcia as Terry Benedict; Bernie Mac as Frank Catton; Don Cheadle as Basher Tarr; Carl Reiner as Saul Bloom; Elliott Gould as Reuben Tishkoff; Albert Finney as La Marque; Topher Grace as Himself; Bruce Willis as Himself
Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic, Erin Brockovich)
Tom Neven Tom Neven