Ocean's Eight

 

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The Ocean’s franchise gets a gender switch in Gary Ross’s impossibly classy, well-connected caper.

 

Ocean's Eight

Dreams are made of this: Sarah Paulson, Sandra Bullock and Rihanna

 

The great heistmeisters of history have always been men. But in the Ocean family, crime runs in the DNA. So now that Danny Ocean is dead and Debbie Ocean is on parole, the mother of all heists is ready for enactment. Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has had five years, eight months and twelve days to plan the minutiae of this particular operation. All she needs now is to recruit her crew – with one proviso. “A ‘him’ gets noticed,” she argues, “but a ‘her’ gets ignored.” So she sets about enlisting an all-female support act. And what a motley crew they are: Australia’s Cate Blanchett, the Indian-American Mindy Kaling, the rapper Awkwafina (of Chinese and South Korean heritage), Rihanna of Barbados and an occasionally Irish-accented Helena Bonham Carter. Their goal: to steal an antique diamond necklace worth $150 million.

 

Due to its value, the necklace has been buried behind five-feet of solid concrete in a Cartier vault in New York. The plan is to get it round the neck of the fashion icon Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), who happens to be co-hosting the Met Gala, the most exclusive invitation-only party in the USA. The event is such a big deal that it merited its own documentary, The First Monday in May, which featured Rihanna – the real Rihanna – in the most famous gown of the 21st century (Guo Pei's so-called ‘omelette dress’). And the necklace, even if Daphne Kluger can convince Cartier to release it for the occasion, comes with its own security detail and a magnetically activated release switch. Still, where there’s a will…

 

Since Debbie was incarcerated for fraud almost six years ago, technology has come a long way. But while banks may be more secure, there are hackers like ‘Nine-Ball’ (a ganja-belching Rihanna in dreadlocks) who can work miracles with a laptop. And these women have brains as well as chutzpah. The scene in which Debbie wafts into a high-end Manhattan store (Bergdorf Goodman) and walks out with a bagful of goodies is an act of mind-expanding chicanery. But you’d need her balls to pull it off.

 

Since the Ocean’s trilogy grossed $1.17 billion worldwide, and, according to one report, movies about women have, on average, grossed $45.5 million more than recent films about men, a gender re-boot made commercial sense. And with this line-up of Oscar-endorsed actresses and fashion dignitaries (Anna Wintour plays herself), the film exudes nothing if not class. Even if such shenanigans fail to rock your boat, there are plenty of peripheral pleasures. Whether it’s an English insurance-fraud investigator impishly embodied by James Corden or a Delacroix masterpiece given a gender switch by Banksy, it’s all a sleekly entertaining, if slightly guilty pleasure.

 

Coincidental or not, the crowning scene of triumph is set to Nancy Sinatra belting out ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin'’, Nancy being the daughter of Frank Sinatra, star of the original Ocean’s Eleven (back in 1960). Either way, it’s a worthy climax to this ritzy, classy hymn to female empowerment which slips down like a goji berry sorbet.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Armitage, James Corden, Nathanya Alexander, Dakota Fanning, Elliott Gould, Shaobo Qin, Marlo Thomas, Dana Ivey, Mary Louise Wilson, Elizabeth Ashley, Griffin Dunne, Common, Katie Holmes, Anna Wintour, Serena Williams, Olivia Munn, Maria Sharapovia, Andrew Bolton, Jaime King, Heidi Klum, John McEnroe.

 

Dir Gary Ross, Pro Steven Soderbergh and Susan Ekins, Screenplay Gary Ross and Olivia Milch, from a story by Gary Ross, Ph Eigil Bryld, Pro Des Alex DiGerlando, Ed Juliette Welfling, Music Daniel Pemberton, Costumes Sarah Edwards.

 

Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Smoke House Pictures/Larger Than Life Productions-Warner Brothers.

110 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 18 June 2018. Cert. 12A.