Ocean's Twelve is one of my favorite Steven Soderbergh films and the best reflexive takedown of the sequel ever made. It jovially begins as a shameless retread of Ocean's Eleven before spiraling out of control by exaggerating every aspect that made that film a success until the result is a bewildering mess and a giddy commentary on the lazy self-satisfaction of most sequels. Somehow, the in-joke-heavy, pally nature of the acting among Hollywood's A-list does not lapse into pure smugness, perhaps because as much fun as the film has in deconstructing overdone studio mechanics, it also invites the audience to have fun with the cast, provided the viewer can let go of the desire for any kind of fulfillment from the plot. Ocean's Eleven sublimated all of Soderbergh's aesthetic tics into an unexpected crowd pleaser; its first sequel let all the new fans know what they were in for.
My full review is up at Spectrum Culture.