It's just my opinion, but it really felt like they didn't even try/want to get the style of the first film.
That is probably because they never intended to redo the first. Soderbergh, when approaching the whole idea, realised, that he never made a sequel before, so he sat down and worked out some rules by which he wanted to make the film. First rule, dont repeat style, second rule, continue developing characters and character relationships.
Apart from the "homage to Zata-Jones and Entrapment" where Cassel is demonstrating how agile he is because he trained martial arts since before he was born, which is awful, stupid and silly, the films major problem is its first 40 minutes.
[spoiler]1 - The films spends 15 minutes reintroducing EACH character, as Garcia visits EACH character and says basically the same to each. Instead, begin with the Pitt sequence, then cut to the Clooney sequence, and cut from him speaking on the phone on the train to the meeting. Those 15 minutes is the worst Soderbergh ever has put on screen.
2 - Now comes the 25 second worst minutes of Soderbergh career, the Amsterdam sequence. Simply messy and with lack of structure.[/spoiler]
Then walk on Cathrine Zeta-Jones, and now we suddenly get structure, the ping pong / cat and mouse game begins, especially with the introduction of "the nightfox" (stupid name btw), and the game will be who is ahead of who, who will outsmart who, or what we liked about Ocean's 11 to begin with.
What follows is the biggest joke Soderbergh yet has done. Not only does the characters get away with anything, so does he now. Allow me to explain why he is one of the greatest genius' in cinema today.
[spoiler]The Julia Roberts sequence. Here Julia Roberts, plays Tess Ocean and is asked to play... Julia Roberts. And who does she meet? Bruce Willis, who is Bruce Willis.[/spoiler]
Already doing it in Full Frontal and especially in K-street, Soderbergh not only breaks down the barriers between fiction and reality, but between film and "documentary" (in lack of another word), only to rearrange his reality in a manner, so the audience watches reality, but believes its fiction.
And he does so thruought the film, after Amsterdam. My personal favorite use of this technique is when[spoiler] Danny Ocean, played by Clooney, takes on the recent blend of vanity and concern about his age of Clooney, and asks his co-actors, if he really looks 50. [/spoiler]
If Oceans 12 have had these touches of genius thought the film, if they had taken their time to remove the rest the rather clumpsy script "Honor amongst Thieves" by George Nolfi (who also wrote "Timeline", which says all about his skills) and just keep the elements that worked, it would without question have been one of the best films of 2004, and without contest the best American film of 2004, but sadly its not.
The first 40 minutes, especially those horrible first 15 minutes, cannot be excused, and one really has a hard time finding any defence for Cassel's lasershow sneaking, except that it is an injoke to Zeta.
EDIT: Two final comments:
1 - Damn they all play well
2 - Damn that Holmes guy has some funky tunes.