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Review: Sisters are stealing stuff for themselves in Ocean's 8

PUBLISHED: 09:07 22 June 2018

Sarah Paulson as Tammy, Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean and Rihanna as Nine Ball in Oceans 8. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry Wetcher

Sarah Paulson as Tammy, Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean and Rihanna as Nine Ball in Oceans 8. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry Wetcher

Archant

Crime pays off again, just about, in latest misadventures of the larcenous Ocean family that ditches George Clooney, Brad Pitt in favour of an all-female lead cast spearheaded by Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett.

Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, Cate Blanchett as Cate, Rihanna as Nine Ball, Mindy Kaling as Amita, Awkwafina as Constance in Oceans 8. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry WetcherSandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, Cate Blanchett as Cate, Rihanna as Nine Ball, Mindy Kaling as Amita, Awkwafina as Constance in Oceans 8. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry Wetcher

Ocean’s 8 (12A)

***

Crime doesn’t pay, so they say. But George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 decision, much derided at the time, to get a gang together to remake the 1950’s Rat Pack heist movie really came up trumps. And we’ve been paying for it ever since.

Caper movies are so tricky to get right. You need a really good ear to fine tune the tone. Too light and it becomes frivolous; not light enough and it becomes a procedural drag, a lot of notions gone through for scant reward.

I think audiences appreciated what a lightning-in-a-bottle wonder Ocean’s 11 was. The makers though seem to have thought they’d stumbled upon a sure-fire, easy to replicate hit formula: a terrible mistake they have stubbornly refused to accept despite the evidence of Oceans 12 and 13.

Anne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger and Helena Bonham-Carter as Rose Weil in Oceans 8. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry WetcherAnne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger and Helena Bonham-Carter as Rose Weil in Oceans 8. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry Wetcher

Now we have Ocean’s Ladies, trying to surf along on the contemporary mood of female empowerment: ‘Sisters Nicking Stuff For Themselves’.

Sandra Bullock is the sister of Clooney’s Danny Ocean, now deceased, getting an all-female gang together to pull off a plan to steal a $150 million Cartier diamond necklace at the glitzy, celebrity cameo-packed Met Gala.

To achieve the impossible, Debbie assembles a crack crew from the wrong side of the law including best friend Lou (Cate Blanchett), fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson), jeweller Amita (Mindy Kaling), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna) and Irish fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter).

Ocean’s 8 isn’t a horrible film and approached in an indulgent mood may well do the job, but there isn’t any great humour or invention to it.

In the pub afterwards, I think you’ll struggle to come up with any ‘Good Bits’ to recall with a smile. The art of the heist movie is that it has to run a con on its audience, hoodwinking it into believing in its ridiculous and nonsensical plot, to misdirect attention away from all its gaping holes, at least until after the film is over.

James Corden and Richard Armitage in Oceans 8. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry WetcherJames Corden and Richard Armitage in Oceans 8. Photo: Warner Bros/Barry Wetcher

The plan Bullock has spent five years in prison perfecting doesn’t have any snap to its execution or much Ta-Dah to its plot reversals.

That was why the first Ocean’s was so special. The final scene when the eleven gather together in front of a Vegas hotel fountain display and then one by one drift away captured the satisfaction of having pulled off something frivolous but remarkable.

It was a film that made you appreciate just how wonderful a Hollywood entertainment could be. In Ocean’s 11 we all got away with it; in 8 we’re all being taken.

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