It’s not quite a heist-erpiece

by Shane Dillon

With Jurassic World currently laying waste to all and sundry around it, you could be forgiven for not noticing another dinosaur that’s slunk into cinemas: the return of the heist flick.

Last thought to be as dead as the proverbial dodo, the Ocean’s [Number] franchise has been dug up, had a hormone switch, been zapped full of electricity – or at least given a little on-screen crackle – and sent back out into the world, via Ocean’s 8 (Cert 12A, 110 mins).

In case you somehow missed the extensive marketing push, it’s the rebirth of the Ocean’s series, with its core concept being – shock – that the crew this time round are all women.
Wimmen! What sacrilege is this, a variety of knucklehead men have grunted, showing the same Neanderthal outrage that greeted the recent all-girl Ghostbusters reboot (although that film was… fine, in its solidly average way).

The very thought that – shock – women can be just as cool as the usual male suspects, and that a bunch of gals might like to be serious crooks onscreen too, has caused some unrest amongst some threatened males, poor lambs, though not as vociferously as seen with Ghostbusters (and much of that film’s cowardly criticism was laced with blatant racism aimed at Leslie Jones).

Diving away from that analysis, Ocean’s 8 finds that too-cool-for-school Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is out – way out, as he’s as definitely dead as that damn dodo in this film – and his sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock) is in.

Or, rather, she’s out – outta jail and outta get the big score she’s been planning during her years in the slammer.
A more modern criminal might be musing how to hack bitcoin cryptocurrency exchanges, but frankly, who wants to watch a bunch of nerds running mining PC farms in gloomy basements, making small talk as pizza boxes pile up?

Instead, Debbie’s an old-skool crook who’s all about the bling, baby – the McGuffin bling here being a fabulously expensive necklace that’ll be on show at the Met Gala, courtesy of a conveniently placed socialite (Anne Hathaway).

Even a fast-talking, fast-thinking jailbird like Debbie’s going to need a diverse crew to carry that heist off, rounding things up – and also down – to the eponymous eight from the title, so in time-honoured fashion she sets about rounding up The Crew, organising The Plan, and then executing The Heist.

If you’ve read this far, you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Film is rather formulaic, with its single biggest raison d’etre so far being to create a new all-girl (or all-women) star vehicle.

Perhaps. In this regard, its director (Gary Ross) is largely irrelevant to how this particular Ocean’s pans out.
Given a large enough cast to manage (I haven’t even nodded at The Guys also along for the ride), he’s little more than a bus driver, dropping everyone off at predictable stops along the film’s route.

As such, this particular Ocean’s Star Vehicle is powered by some A-list stars (the likes of Rihanna and Cate Blanchett are also along for the ride), as well as slightly more leftfield choices (such as Helena Bonham Carter, rocking an unfortunate Oirish accent), while fashionistas may squeal at spotting the likes of Anna Wintour or a wretched kollection of Kardashians in their kameos.

Ultimately, does 8 do enough to distinguish itself from the clapped-out dozen or whatever previous Ocean’s films?
Not so much. Ignoring that the film’s core hook is that, ‘Hey, They’re Girls!’ when it comes to the crooks and the cons, you’re deep in standard heist territory here.

It’s worth pointing out that the crew here are anything but motley – director Ross seems to have decided that the most criminal thing about the film would be to show any stray hairs, imperfect make-up or less than Christmas-perfume-telly-ads levels of lighting and shots – making them an unusually perfect group of thieves.

As such, the 8 crew may not steal your full attention, but hey, they’ll at least nab most of it for a couple of caperrific hours.
Verdict: 6/10

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