OCEAN’S EIGHT

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Gary Ross

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham-Carter, Rihanna, Awkwafina, Minday Kaling, James Corden, Richard Armitage, Elliott Gould, Griffin Dunne, Dakota Fanning, Richard Robichaux, Marlo Thomas, Dana Ivey, Elizabeth Ashley.

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Last year we had the all-female remake/reboot of the 80s cult comedy Ghostbusters, which opened to lacklustre reviews and box office returns. And now we get this all-female reboot of the comic crime caper Ocean’s Eleven. The original Ocean’s Eleven was basically an excuse for Frank Sinatra and his “rat pack” pals to hang around Las Vegas and make a movie. Steven Soderbergh’s stylish 2001 remake was basically an excuse for George Clooney and his pals to hang around a film set and have a bit of fun. This remake is basically an excuse for a stellar ensemble of actresses to hang around, wear gorgeous costumes and have a bit of fun. And they obviously enjoyed themselves here.

Ocean’s Eight centres around a well-planned heist with the usual split-second timing, complicated scenario, and the occasional hiccup in the otherwise well-oiled plan. This female centric caper comedy is light weight stuff, but is also a lot of fun.

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the sister of the recently departed Danny Ocean, has just been released from prison after serving a six-year stint. She made the most of her time inside though, planning an elaborate scheme to steal a fortune in jewels during the annual glitzy gala ball at New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

Debbie begins to assemble her team, which includes her best friend and partner in crime Lou (Cate Blanchett). The rest of the team includes gifted hacker 9 Ball (played by singer Rhianna); fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham-Carter), who has fallen out of favour and is heavily in debt to the IRS; soccer mum Tammy (Sarah Paulson, from The Post, etc), who has a garage full of stolen goods; Constance (rapper Awkwafina, from Bad Neighbours 2, etc,) a gifted pickpocket; and Amita (Mindy Kaling), a jeweller with some mummy issues. Their target is a $150 million necklace from Cartier that will be worn by celebrity actress Daphne Kruger (Anne Hathaway).

Bullock brings a tough edge to her performance here as Debbie, who keeps essential elements of her plan close to her chest, but she also inject a touch of vulnerability. Blanchett coasts along in cruise control in a role that hardly taxes her, while Hathaway has a lot of fun here as Kruger and seems to be sending up her own screen image to boot. Bonham-Carter looks a little like Cindy Lauper here with her gaudy dress sense. A host of celebrity cameos from the likes of Anna Wintour and B-list actors during the Met ball add authenticity to these scenes. James Corden has fun as a bumbling insurance investigator. Elliot Gould’s cameo as Reuben provides a solid link to the Clooney films, as does a strategically placed photograph, but this film stands on its own.

The pleasure of films like the Oscar winning classic The Sting and American Hustle was in watching the elaborate and complicated con come together and unfold on the screen. The script has been written by director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, The Hunger Games, etc) and Olivia Milch, although one wishes that they had fleshed out some of the supporting players in more detail. Ross maintains a breezy pace throughout. The film has been slickly edited by Juliette Welfling (Dheepan, etc). Cinematographer Eigil Bryld (In Bruges, etc) has shot the film in slick and glossy fashion.

★★★

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