Film review: Ocean's 8 cast clearly having fun and their enjoyment is infectious
Clooney and co get the heave-ho as an all-female all-star cast, er, man the latest instalment of the Ocean's... crime caper series. Do they pull it off? With the help of a decent script, hell yes, writes Damon Smith
CRIME pays handsomely in a convoluted and effervescent caper, which continues the misadventures of the larcenous Ocean family from Steven Soderbergh's trilogy.
It has been more than a decade since the daring Las Vegas casino heist of Ocean's 13 and the world has changed beyond recognition.
Director Gary Ross's stylish picture ditches George Clooney, Brad Pitt and their impeccably tailored brothers in arms for an all-female lead cast spearheaded by Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett.
They plot an ambitious robbery in plain sight that subtly acknowledges seismic shifts in gender politics by refusing to hire a male accomplice and strain the bonds of sisterly solidarity.
"A him gets noticed, a her gets ignored and for once we want to be ignored," asserts Bullock's criminal mastermind.
The loosely coiled plot, co-written by Olivia Milch, requires similar suspensions of disbelief to previous chapters but there's a loopy logic to each narrative twist and our enjoyment stems from watching the pieces of an elaborate puzzle fall into place, often with seconds to spare.
Elliot Gould and contortionist Shaobo Qin briefly reprise roles as members of the old guard but Ocean's 8 stands tall and proud on its own stiletto-clad feet without repeatedly flirting with the past.
Danny Ocean's younger sister Debbie (Bullock) emerges from a five-year stint at Nichols Women's Prison with $45 in her pocket and revenge on her mind.
Her target is former lover Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), an art gallery owner who set her up for fraud and testified against her to secure Debbie's conviction.
Her cunning plan is to frame Becker for the theft of "blingy, Liz Taylor jewels" worth $150 million, which are set in a necklace that self-absorbed actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) is due to wear to the annual Met Gala fundraiser.
The gems will be closely monitored during the glitzy event by two highly trained guards, Guillermo (Migs Govea) and Yuri (James Biberi), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's supposedly impenetrable security system.
To achieve the impossible, Debbie assembles a crack crew from the wrong side of the law including best friend Lou (Blanchett), fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson), jeweller Amita (Mindy Kaling), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna) and Irish fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter).
The con is on.
Ocean's 8 goes down smoothly and sweetly as a freshly shaken martini, set to a groovy score composed by Daniel Pemberton.
Bullock doesn't need to flex her comic muscles, allowing Bonham Carter's eccentricity and Hathaway's diva to pickpocket big laughs alongside James Corden as a wily insurance fraud investigator, who has a long history with the Ocean family.
Ross's direction doesn't steal the limelight from an engaging cast, who are clearly enjoying themselves and their geniality is infectious.
OCEAN'S 8 (12A, 110 mins) Thriller/Comedy/Drama/Romance. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Armitage, James Corden, Migs Govea, James Biberi. Director: Gary Ross
Released: June 18 (UK & Ireland)