Title: Ocean’s Eight
Language: English, German, French, Mandarin
Genre: Action, Crime, Comedy
Director: Gary Ross
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Cinematography: Eigil Bryld
Helena Bonham Carter
Under the good name of righting the wrong of Hollywood commodity’s sexism predilection, this Ocean’s heist female spin-off has a glamorous appeal that stems from its exuberant comedic pizzazz and a jaunty pace bringing glitterati and posh pageantry to the fore, but that uplifting feeling doesn’t last too long once the movie wraps up, for this reviewer’s two cents, its rinky-dink plot and uninspiring characterization of its dramatis personae are the culprits.
Formally divvied up into the genre’s standard third-act mode, recruitment and preparation, the action, and its aftermath, directer Gary Ross builds a conflict-free sororal bond among his stellar cast,even to a point of antiseptic, lead by Sandra Bullock’s Debbie Ocean, a role right up her alley, bristle with a bland-ish charm and self-knowledge. A second-billed Cate Blanchett earns her fat check as Lou, Debbie’s partner-in-crime, but her butch élan is only swung by a very superficial touch, one might presume that Ross balks at the proposition of making a prominent lesbian character in a mainstream production with a high price tag, a shameful cop-out not only because it flags up the studio’s craven conservatism and deep-fish avarice, but when you have Blanchett at your disposal, you don’t waste her talent like that, not when she is so game and telegenic in form to sweep any preys off their feet.
In the third tier, we have a jittery Helena Bonham Carter doing her best “bad acting” as the fashion designer Rose Weil, Sarah Paulson pulls off her deceitful innocuousness as fellow con artist Tammy, then the racial card should be routinely designated, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna and Awkwafina duly line up for their sleight-of-hand (either literally or figuratively), but 17 years after Steven Soderbergh’s OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2011), an Asian, still takes the short end as a petty filcher, retrogression is the operative word here.
The only major twist (there is a minor one bringing back one old friend in a blisteringly edited flashback that should make their escapade more plausible, but few would care) lands on the shoulder of Anne Hathaway’s Daphne Kluger, a red-hot celebrity who becomes the “seemingly” unwitting mule to wear Cartier’s $150 million necklace “The Toussaint” in the annual Met Gala, which Debbie and co. intends to steal. But, if you notice the movie’s title and your math is passable, the surprise is not that surprising when she tips her hand in the fallout, a radiant Hathaway runs away with the film in sheer self-mocking ease.
Yet, out of all its run-of-the-mill wheezes in the cohort’s daring (if over-simplified) shenanigans, there is a glaring plot-hole that sticks in this reviewer’s throat, a priori, the Toussaint can only be unclasped using a special magnet by the jewel’s bodyguard, so why on earth no one makes a fuss about it being mysteriously lost during the gala dinner, allegedly without the aid of that exclusive magnet? Or, at the very least, any investigator would surmise the bodyguard could be a accomplice in the subterfuge. That is the dead proof of crummy work in the script department, a kick in the teeth of an otherwise ephemerally diverting fluff.
referential entries: Steven Soderbergh’s OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001, 7,2/10), OCEAN’S TWELVE (2004, 5.6/10), OCEAN’S THIRTEEN (2007, 5.5/10); Ross’ THE HUNGER GAMES (2012, 7.3/10).