In Ocean’s 8 Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) – sister of the silver-haired maestro that is Danny Ocean (George Clooney) of the previous three films – is finally out on parole. Con artistry is in the family blood and as soon as she’s out Debbie is filling up her bag with cosmetics (a pretty smart con it must be said) and blagging her way into luxurious hotels. Debbie has her eyes set on a much larger prize, namely a $150 million Cartier necklace which she plans to steal during the Met Ball.
Of course, she needs a crew and hooks up with old friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) to set the ball rolling. The rest of the gang include Sarah Paulson’s expert fencer Tammy, Rihanna’s tech pro Nine Ball, Mindy Kaling’s diamond specialist Amita, Helena Bonham Carter’s fashion designer Rose and Awkwafina’s quick-handed thief Constance. The plan is to steal the diamond piece from the neck of actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) during the ball without anyone noticing.
And so goes the plot of Ocean’s 8, the next instalment in the Ocean franchise that first began with Clooney, Pitt and Co.’s Ocean’s 11 back in 2001. Anyone half decent at maths can see what comes after this current release, with at least two more films required to join up the dots.
The hook this time around being we have an all-female crew although the story follows the same super-slick heist narrative that played out in the first three films. Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) oversees proceedings from the director’s chair and with Swiss watch precision, the heist slowly winds into gear from fairly early on.
With such a great cast involved, you would hope for something a little more fun than it ends up being. It’s a serviceable film that does what it needs to pass the time without attempting anything you wouldn’t expect to happen. Belief always has to be suspended when it comes to capers and heists and despite there being plenty of plot holes they are glossed over quickly enough and easily forgotten.
A complete absence of tension is possibly the film’s biggest problem with no Andy Garcia equivalent present to offer any push back against Debbie’s plan. That’s something they might look to remedy in the next film but for now, the puzzle of the theft is put together without a hint of real danger anywhere in sight.
Bullock’s and Blanchett’s characters struggle to convince as friends that go way back with much of the banter falling flat. Oddly, it is left to the late appearance of James Corden as an insurance fraud investigator to add a splash of sparky humour missing from much of the cast. Anne Hathaway also avoids falling into that bracket as she is clearly enjoying herself as a spoilt prima donna movie star used to getting her way.
Ocean’s 8 slots in seamlessly alongside the previous trilogy with an efficient, if unspectacular, addition to the series. There is still the likelihood that one or two surprises are being kept up the sleeve for the next film or two but as long as it can loosen up a little more they’ll prove to be worthy companions of Steven Soderbergh’s originals.