Directed by Steven Soderbergh
For the most part, the group doesn’t really work as a cohesive unit this time, instead spending time with Clooney and Pitt throwing around the type of banter that further blurs the line between whether they’re playing characters or themselves. Everyone else shows up to do a few minutes of their usual routine mostly going for the obvious as each shows up in an outlandish costume or accent before it moves onto the next one. It gets tiring fairly quickly and when Don Cheadle’s Basher shows up as motorcycle stuntman Fender Roads for no apparent reason except to try to make him funnier, it’s obvious how out-of-control the whole thing has gotten.
At times, you wonder if it’s even worth it, especially when they have to go to their old nemesis Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) to borrow $36 million for an elaborate drill that will be used to take out the casino’s high-tech security system, which is like something out of a sci-fi movie. It seems like so much work and money is putting into this scheme and for what? To get revenge on a slimy businessman? This is Las Vegas after all, and one would expect shady dealings and double crosses to be the norm, so the motivations for the story are already pretty flimsy. There really isn’t much conflict for their elaborate plan either. Any time something arises that might screw up their scheme, they have some sort of clever back-up plan ready to go, as if they planned for every possible obstacle or outcome. It makes their revenge against Bank so one-sided towards Ocean and his group that one never feels they’re in any danger of failing in their attempt at getting revenge for their friend.
As Bank, Pacino is basically doing the same thing he’s been doing for the last few years, and it only gets slightly more amusing when Garcia shows up doing essentially the same schtick (probably learned from working with Pacino). Sadly, we only get one scene where Ocean’s two main baddies meet up and it’s nothing special.
Granted, there are still a number of amusing bits, mostly involving Casey Affleck and Scott Caan, who steal the movie as the squabbling brothers. At one point, Affleck goes undercover as a Mexican worker to infiltrate a dice manufacturing company as part of their scheme to fix all the games against the casino, a funny bit, but one that adds to the absolutely outlandish nature of the scheme. David Paymer puts in a funny turn as the poor hotel reviewer given the runaround by Ocean’s crew so that he won’t give Banks’ new hotel a coveted award received by his previous establishments.
Once again, the female characters get the short end of the stick as Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones are replaced by Ellen Barkin as Bank’s right hand woman, who is effortlessly seduced into a tryst with Matt Damon’s Linus Caldwell (sporting a fake nose and accent of course) in order to steal Banks’ pride and joy, the Five Diamond Award, giving Soderbergh an excuse to bring back Vincent Cassell’s jewel thief The Fox, shoehorning him into the story in a way that adds very little to the already complicated mess.
While Soderbergh goes for similar hip stylings as the first movie, complete with split screen storytelling, he also uses a ghastly oversaturated color scheme that doesn’t add anything and makes things look uglier, rather than slicker. Soderbergh’s effects team seems particularly proud of the fictitious computer-generated casino at the center of the heist, so much so that they feel the need to repeatedly show it via sweeping aerial views, again serving little purpose.
The Bottom Line: