All-fe­male Ocean’s not that greight

Women im­press in heist spin-off but it’s as for­get­table as the other re­makes, says Paul Whit­ing­ton

Irish Independent - - The Critics -

Ocean’s 8 (12A, 110mins) ★★★★★

Slick, glossy and en­tirely for­get­table, Steven Soder­bergh’s Ocean’s 11 films traded on the suave ap­peal of Ge­orge Clooney and Brad Pitt, and de­picted an ide­alised un­der­world in which a broth­er­hood of im­pos­si­bly hand­some crim­i­nals found vi­o­lence dis­taste­ful and of­ten stole for lofty, high-minded rea­sons. They were based on an equally fan­ci­ful 1960s Frank Si­na­tra/Rat Pack movie, and there were three of them, but by the time Ocean’s Thir­teen ar­rived in the sum­mer of 2007, the for­mula had be­gun to look a lit­tle stale.

Do we need an all-fe­male ver­sion? It mat­ters not be­cause we have one, and San­dra Bul­lock leads an im­pres­sive en­sem­ble of ac­tresses, play­ing Deb­bie Ocean, younger sis­ter of Clooney’s char­ac­ter, Danny. He would ap­pear to be dead, at least one hopes so be­cause they’ve taken the lib­erty of bury­ing him, but even his sis­ter has her doubts, and mut­ters “you bet­ter be in there” when she vis­its his grave. A sim­i­larly slip­pery cus­tomer, Deb­bie has just been re­leased from prison fol­low­ing a five-year stint for an elab­o­rate con.

Has she learnt her les­son? Not at all: on her first af­ter­noon out she robs a new out­fit from a depart­ment store, cons her way into a fancy Man­hat­tan ho­tel room and looks up her old friend and part­ner in crime, Lou (Cate Blanchett), who runs a small ware­house man­u­fac­tur­ing wa­tered-down vodka.

‘Go big or go home’ seems to be Deb­bie’s motto, who has no time for such mi­nor crimes and she tells Lou about her am­bi­tious plan to steal a $150m Cartier di­a­mond neck­lace. A grand ball is held each year at New York’s Metropoli­tan Mu­seum: if Cartier can be per­suaded to lend it to one of the glam­orous at­ten­dees, Deb­bie and her gang will swap it with a 3D printed fake and make off with the real sparklers. What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

Their plan will in­volve a mark, a histri­onic ac­tress called Daphne Kluger (played with com­mend­able gusto by Anne Hath­away), and a fash­ion de­signer will­ing to take part in the scam. Rose Weil (He­lena Bon­ham Carter) is des­per­ate enough: she used to be a big cheese in the 1990s but has just en­dured a dis­as­trous launch of her new col­lec­tion when Deb­bie and Lou ap­proach her with their propo­si­tion.

She grabs at it like a drown­ing woman and per­suades Kluger to let her dress her for the Met ball. The real neck­lace will be swapped for the fake one dur­ing the evening, and a team of expert rob­bers and hack­ers will en­sure the st­ing goes ac­cord­ing to plan. Steven Soder­bergh’s Oceans films blended smooth ed­its, split screens and an easy-lis­ten­ing sound­track with tongue-in-cheek all-star casts. Elliott Gould is the only sur­vivor from the orig­i­nal en­sem­ble and shows up early on play­ing Danny Ocean’s sage ad­vi­sor Reuben Tishkoff to give Deb­bie and Ocean’s 8 his bless­ing, as it were.

A strong cast here in­cludes Sarah Paul­son, whose char­ac­ter Tammy is a sub­ur­ban mother with a garage full of fenced goods, Ri­hanna, who mut­ters her way through the film play­ing a mas­ter hacker, and Richard Ar­mitage as a preen­ing art dealer whose ful­some con­fes­sion got Deb­bie im­pris­oned.

Stick­ing closely to Soder­bergh’s tried and tested for­mula, di­rec­tor Gary Ross un­folds this slen­der tale com­pe­tently. Slick, know-it-all heist crim­i­nals who are al­ways three steps ahead of the law can eas­ily come across as smug and ir­ri­tat­ing, and Ocean’s 8 is af­flicted by a slight monotony of tone: it bur­bles along pleas­antly enough with­out ever quite reach­ing a cli­max. It is, though, per­fectly

en­joy­able, and seems to sug­gest that women are much bet­ter team play­ers than men, less likely to be­come dis­tracted by com­par­ing the size of their gen­i­tals, more likely to get the job done.

He­lena Bon­ham Carter is a lot of fun as the ec­cen­tric fash­ion de­signer, who’s Ir­ish by the way (the ac­cent is vari­able), and James Cor­don turns up late on play­ing a per­haps in­ten­tion­ally an­noy­ing in­sur­ance in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

But it’s Anne Hath­away and her shouty, at­ten­tion-seek­ing ac­tress who ul­ti­mately steals the show.

Tech that: San­dra Bul­lock, Sarah Paul­son, Ri­hanna, Cate Blanchett andAwk­wa­fi­nain Ocean’s 8

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