Ocean’s Eight (Ross, 2018)

This insanely talented cast deserved much better than this kind of straight-down-the-middle filmmaking that gives them only the bare minimum to shine. The pedestrian nature of this endeavour was a big shame. I, quite shamefully, have not seen the previous Ocean films, but I would assume they were snappier and more assured stylistically than what Gary Ross serves up here. Ocean’s 8, which is all about pulling off a heist at the Met Gala, doesn’t even bother giving us off-the-wall costumes, barring one look from Helena Bonham Carter. That should be an instant fail in my books… but I’m not going to go that far. Because, while there’s a flatness and predictability to the film that bothered me, the cast ended up saving it, chewing their lines like soft toffee and kicking in the winks and nudges that kept things lively and swinging.

Sandra Bullock exuded the cool, Cate Blanchett was all elfin mischief, Anne Hathaway self-parodied to perfection, Helena cracked open her best Irish brogue, Rihanna was fierce, and Awkwafina dope. Mindy Kaling and Sarah Paulson were also great supporting presences, despite having the most uninspired characters. The gals killed it, while the men had the iffiest presences. Richard Armitage was there to be sexy, but his backstory with Bullock’s character was underwritten. Meanwhile, James Corden’s hyperactive personality felt off in this type of film. I somehow can’t take him seriously in anything that isn’t G or PG rated anymore. When he walked in, I had to keep myself from rolling my eyes too much as started to serve up the ham.

If there’s ever an Ocean’s 9 (and I’m sure there will be), my hope is that a new director comes aboard and takes some risks with the material. A female director directing a female-led cast would make sense, for starters. One that would raise the stakes even further, and make the plan for the next heist less infallible. Oh, and one that would stop making the relationship between Bullock and Blanchett’s characters so subtextual, like MY GOODNESS. They’re lovers, so let them love each other!