Years from now, someone will say, “Did Sandra Bullock ever make a film with Cate Blanchett?” Folks will ponder the question, look it up and discover they both phoned it in in “Ocean’s 8,” a sequel of sorts to George Clooney’s money-making remakes.
In the so-so summer soufflé, Bullock plays Clooney’s sister, a recently released con artist who has decided to plot revenge against the man who put her in prison.
She quickly gets Blanchett, a longtime partner in crime, to join her and they begin assembling a team of women who can help steal an oh-so-expensive necklace that never leaves the Cartier vault.
The most implausible move is getting the MET Ball dinner’s chair (Anne Hathaway) to agree to have a failing designer (Helena Bonham Carter) create her dress. Once that mountain is scaled, it’s easy plotting. Rihanna plays a computer hacker; Mindy Kaling is a diamond pro; Awkwafina is a pickpocket; and Sarah Paulson is a great fence (and party planner). The women go to work, hit the ball and play the game.
Director Gary Ross might have tossed them a bigger curve than an insurance investigator (James Corden, who’s not exactly a Clouseau), particularly since he isn’t even a concern from the start. When he gets in the act, so much has already happened it’s just a matter of figuring out who’s tripping who.
“Ocean’s 8” looks like it took place at the real MET Ball (it even features cameos by regulars like Anna Wintour, Kim Kardashian and Katie Holmes) and has the patina of power. Knowing how most events step up security for employees, it’s a bit farfetched to believe those with criminal records would get this far. Still, it moves quickly enough that major flaws don’t stand out like a cubic zirconium.
Whoever did the film’s makeup should be in the running for next year’s Oscar. Bullock and Blanchett have such a matte finish it’s almost impossible to catch a smile – or a wrinkle. Bonham Carter has been Vivienne Westwood-ed to the nth degree and Rihanna has a way of blending in that makes her a prime candidate for more (and better) work.
The wild card here is Hathaway, who must have been around enough socialites to know just how self-centered and obnoxious they can be. She plays every nuance and, for the most part, gets the film’s biggest laughs. She’s more talented than you’d think, able to hold her own with Blanchett or anyone else with two Oscars.
While “Ocean’s 8” resembles many of those 1960s caper films (“The Pink Panther,” “Caprice,” you name ‘em), it lacks the fear factor that made them so much fun to watch.
In his quest to promote the all-female concept, Ross doesn’t include enough dupe-able males to make this a real coup. Sending up a Harvey Weinstein-type character would have added to the effect and made this a timely property. Consider it an opportunity missed.