It may have a glittering A-list cast, but Ocean’s 8 is as disappointing as the fake diamonds used to replace the real thing in the film’s big heist.
Beyond dispute is the marketing appeal of this female-led project, which stars the likes of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Rihanna, but the script feels like something director Gary Ross and co-writer Olivia Milch have written on a whiplash turnaround.
It’s thuddingly dull, even with a glitzy centrepiece like New York’s annual Met Gala, the annual celebrity fundraiser held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art run by Vogue’s Anna Wintour.
Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, the sister of Ocean’s trilogy honcho Danny Ocean (George Clooney). She’s out on parole when we first meet her, but wastes no time getting back with her old partner-in-crime, Lou, a nightclub owner who looks like a platinum blonde Chrissie Hynde (Cate Blanchett).
This buddy movie pairing has all kinds of Thelma and Louise potential, with Blanchett’s rock swagger a great contrast to Bullock’s high fashion strut, but it’s a friendship that never approaches the same audacity or tenderness.
Debbie assembles her motley team of female crooks to steal a $150 million Cartier necklace from the neck of a famous actress attending the Gala (Anne Hathaway). The idea, she says, is that women don’t get noticed as much as men, and so they should use that to their advantage.
It’s a plan to get rich, sure, but for us, the audience, it’s also about jumping the walls of the celebrity citadel and partying on the tab.
Well, it should be.
Ross doesn’t muster nearly enough fun or suspense. As the gang infiltrate the event under the noses of hundreds of showbiz elites, security guards and CCTV cameras, what’s missing is an exciting, creative camera style that conveys the thrill of moving between the different zones: From the chaotic, steamy kitchens to the glamorous crowds in the museum’s marble hall.
The film’s best moments belong to Hathaway as the anxiety-ridden, vain and capricious starlet. She’s the only successful meld of comedy and pathos — a victim of the celebrity treadmill who is also capable of outsmarting it.
None of the other characters shine. Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina bring younger, diverse faces that aren’t much more than blue collar ‘ethnic’ cliches.
Lacking, too, are any post-Weinstein gags that might have reflected the contemporary gender zeitgeist, but perhaps the Met Gala’s association with the disgraced mogul prevented a more pointed satire.
A plotline involving payback for Debbie’s ex (a not-nearly-nasty-enough Richard Armitage) is surprisingly bland, and by the time James Corden arrives as an investigator for the insurance company in the final stretch, it almost looks like the male comic has come to rescue the film. Not a good thing.
There may be dedicated fans with low expectations who will enjoy this, but no one can deny the effort gone in to aligning the schedules of these talented performers should have amounted to much, much more.