Sisters are doing it for themselves, specifically Danny Ocean’s sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock), in this affably slick but lightweight heist thriller, the fourth in the modern ‘Ocean’ series and the first not to be directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Released from prison after being stitched up by her ex-boyfriend, Debbie Ocean has not wasted the past five years, eight months and twelve days. Instead, she’s used the time to concoct and refine the most audacious heist of her career: the theft of the Toussaint, a $150 million Cartier necklace, from the Met Gala.
There’s a reassuringly familiar slickness to “Ocean’s 8” and while the direction isn’t quite as sharp as Soderbergh, Gary Ross does enough to keep you from focussing on the difference. The New York setting brings a slightly grittier, drabber feel to this fourth instalment, and explicitly a fourth instalment it is, with even the glitz and glamour of the Met Gala failing to rival the sleazy razzle-dazzle of the Vegas Strip, even though it’s crammed with a veritable who’s who of cameos and who kares? of Kardashians.
The cast are every bit as polished as their male counterparts, with Bullock and Blanchett on top form and Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway contributing far more than you’d expect from the trailers. Although the heist is as intricate and ingenious as you could wish for, it all comes together disappointingly easily with each setback dealt with almost before you’ve had time to ponder the potential pitfalls. Although, this being an Ocean film, you’re always aware it’s never about the con you can see, but the final reveals that end up being the more rewarding.
George Clooney’s Danny Ocean is very much the spectre at the feast of this movie and while the film drops a bombshell update about him early on with almost callous casualness, his name crops up time and time again, baiting the audience’s expectations all the way to the very final shot. He’s not the only explicit link to the first three movies, either, with Elliott Gould’s Reuben – in all his pimped-up finery – pops by to caution Debbie against her plans.
Glossy, amusing and formulaically clever, even the (mercifully) brief involvement of James Corden can’t dull the sparkle of this frothy but forgettable franchise entry.