By Bert Voelker (Belgium)

 

Ocean’s 8 starts off alright. Sandra Bullock is introduced as Danny Ocean’s previously unmentioned sister and quickly shows she’s just as deceitful as her (apparently dead, but you never know) brother. Her introduction is pretty much the best part. She’s released from prison after lying herself through a parole hearing, then immediately swindles a perfume shop and gets herself a free room in an expensive hotel. Bullock is perfect for a quirky role like this, but she’s left hanging by the material this movie provides.

This isn’t as much a sequel as it is a soft reboot, with the only new twist being that all the criminals are women this time around. Apart from that, it’s standard fare for this franchise. The plot is pretty much copy-pasted. As usual, our protagonist assembles a team where everyone has their own specialty. In this installment, it’s almost laughably convenient how easy they find all the right people. Sadly, it’s not the only example of these film-makers using easy shortcuts.

The main problem is that you keep waiting for suspense that never comes. A heist movie thrives on an ingenious plan that goes wrong from time to time. The tension should come from the characters almost getting caught, then finding clever ways to escape their fate. In this movie nothing ever goes awry, and if it does, it’s resolved with no effort whatsoever. One wonders if this gang even needed a plan to begin with. Given how competent the security staff in this movie is, they could have probably just snatched the diamonds in the middle of the room. They can’t keep an eye on diamonds worth $150,000,000 becauseā€¦ they’re not allowed into the women’s bathroom! That would totally fly with a real security team, I’m sure.

Another thing the movie sorely misses is Steven Soderbergh’s visual flair. Gary Ross is an established director, but doesn’t appear very interested in this project. His direction is bland and doesn’t do any favors to the ensemble cast. The editing has no rhythm to it, with scenes that either go on for way too long or are cut way too short. In general, the movie never manages to strike the right tone. It looks okay and throws a lot of bright colors and pointless cameos at you (Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova AND Heidi Klum get speaking roles), but it can’t hide the fact that there’s absolutely no substance to keep you interested.

Is there any saving grace to this movie? Well, there are a couple of amusing bit parts. Awkwafina puts in a great performance, rising far above her generic ‘streetwise’ character. James Corden shows up very late to give us some of the best lines in the movie and Anne Hathaway steals pretty much every scene she’s in. Combined, they only provide a couple of amusing moments though. The screenplay is just too run-of-the-mill to allow anything more.

Rating: 2/5

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