"Ocean's Twelve" is the kind of film in which everybody on screen is having a lot more fun than anybody in the audience. A total shambles when it comes to logic or coherence, this sequel to the occasionally witty "Ocean's Eleven" has lost any claim to charm or pleasure. Even though the film has some of the most attractive stars in the business - George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones - and some of the best character actors - Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Vincent Cassel - they are popped in and out of scenes like puppets. The actors say their lines into the void - no one holds a conversation with anybody else - and director Steven Soderbergh, who once had the makings of an impressive body of work, lets them go. It must have been a hell of a lot of fun on the shoot. Too bad we weren't invited.
As for the plot, if I've gotten it right, it seems that "Eleven's" casino owner Andy Garcia now wants the group to pay him the $160 million they stole, never mind that he's already collected it from his insurance company. With interest since the date of the last heist, it's now $198 million. Get it to me in two weeks or you die, he says to George Clooney, or words to that effect. This requires the group to traipse to Amsterdam, where they finesse a heist by raising the owner's house two inches so they can fire a crossbow from across the canal and paste a keypad over something. Meanwhile the Night Fox (Cassel), a thief who can do more one-hand pushups than Jack Palance, is stealing things from under their noses. But no matter; it's off to - well, they end up in Rome two long movie hours later on a mission to steal a Fabergé egg worth, supposedly, the balance of the - okay, already, you get it.
With a film like this, that makes no sense in any conventional way, the fun should lie in the dialogue and the surprises that are built into the plot. Unhappily, Soderbergh and his three writers forgot to put in the fun, and so we're left with a mishmash of poor one-liners and putdowns. There is one lovely moment toward the end, though, when Bruce Willis, in a cameo, recognizes Roberts, who's not playing herself, as the real Roberts, and nearly destroys the planned heist. Oh, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, a detective on the trail of the Twelve, is as always just sensational. Or maybe it's that I have a crush on her. Whatever.