The all-star cast of 'Ocean's 8' directed by Gary Ross
The all-star cast of 'Ocean's 8' directed by Gary Ross

 

 
 
 
“Ocean’s 8” shines bright like a diamond but upon closer inspection, it’s just a cubic zirconia. Bullock, Blanchett and this amazing cast of talented actresses are great together on screen, too bad the screenplay by director Gary Ross and Olivia Milch lacks the spark needed to ignite a story worthy of their talent. The film operates in safe-mode, nothing risqué or adventurous, but a heist film must have some sense of danger and these ladies make it look way too easy.
 
Bullock plays con artist Debbie Ocean, the sister of George Clooney’s character Danny Ocean. For the last five years, she’s been serving time in prison after taking the rap for a caper gone wrong. There are shades of déjà vu as we watch Debbie convince the parole board that she has learned her lesson and now wants to lead a quiet life with a legitimate job. Of course, she’s spent her time in lockup planning the ultimate caper, snatching a $150 million Cartier necklace during the annual Met Gala.
 
It only takes a few minutes for the film to establish Debbie’s skills as a con artist. We watch her go shopping at exclusive retailers without any money and con a five-star hotel out of a room for the night while stealing luggage and a fur coat. Everything goes too smoothly as if there never was any risk of getting caught. It’s a scenario that keeps repeating itself for the entire film.
 
Debbie assembles her team which consists of former partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett), fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), suburban mom and skilled fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a hacker named Nine-Ball (Rihanna), a jeweler named Amita (Mindy Kaling), and skate-boarding con artist Constance (Awkwafina). The mark; actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway). She’ll be the celebrity wearing the $150 million Cartier necklace named the Toussaint around her neck to the annual glitzy Met Gala. But first, the band of thieves must convince Ms. Kluger to accept Rose as her dress designer for the charity ball and Rose must convince Cartier to loan the valuable necklace to Kluger. Yeah, it’s an implausible situation but I get the feeling that most of the audience won’t care. I took my mother to the screening and she didn’t. In fact, she loved “Ocean’s 8.”
 
Ross, known for “The Hunger Games” and “Seabiscuit” does a first-rate job of glamorizing the film. The ladies, the settings, and the scenes at the Met Gala looking fantastic. Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Katie Holmes, Common, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams, and Olivia Munn all have cameos in the film. Some, like Klum and Homes, have lines while others are just featured in the background. I didn’t mention all the fashion designers and models who also appear in the film playing themselves. If this is getting you excited you’re probably not concerned with all the loopholes in the story and you should enjoy the film.
 
“Ocean’s 8” lacks a sense of danger and while there are a few funny scenes (James Corden kills it as an insurance investigator) the comedy is missing those great one-liners. Will these ladies get back together for a sequel? The boys did, so why not? Let’s hope the risk is greater for the next caper.
 
(2 ½ stars)

Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society.  He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate.

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Joe Friar is a member of the Critics Choice Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. A lifelong fan of cinema, he co-founded the Victoria Film Society, Frels Fright Fest, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

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