Ocean's 8 review – gender-swapped rob-com is a criminal waste

This Ocean’s Eleven spin-off in which an all-female gang plots a daring daylight robbery soon runs out of steam

You’ve heard of The Sons of Katie Elder. Here are The Entitled Nieces of Hudson Hawk. A gender-switch on ensemble heist caper Ocean’s Eleven should have been a nice idea. Except that it’s more a gender-switch on Ocean’s Twelve or Ocean’s Thirteen, those bleary sequels that stumbled their way to the DVD bin of yesterdecade. Maybe getting a woman director would have given it more zip, though the problem is with the script.

Sandra Bullock plays jailbird Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny, just out on parole. She cheekily contacts her old compadre Lou (a seriously underused Cate Blanchett) to set up the daring robbery she’s been perfecting in her head during five long years in the joint. Debbie has to assemble a crew for this job: to steal a multi-million-dollar diamond necklace from the exquisitely contoured, swan-like neck of superstar Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) as she attends Manhattan’s ultra-elite Met gala. For this they need crooked designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter); fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson); bling-thief specialist Amita (Mindy Kaling); pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina) and hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna).

Ocean’s 8 motors along pretty enjoyably for a while; it’s always great to hear Bullock break out her raspingly fluent German, and there are some flavoursome cameos, including Anna Wintour and a subliminal walk-on for Wendi Deng. But Debbie’s smaller-scale mischief – shoplifting and scamming free nights in luxury hotels – is weirdly more entertaining than the main event. Then the mark introduces a lame third-act twist, more of a stagger, the tension goes slack and it all heads south.

Where were the climactic crises and heroic solutions? Where were the big moments where it all goes wrong and then right in unexpected ways? Where were the flashbacks disclosing that we, the audience, have been played? Where, in fact, was the dramatic interest? Nowhere. It just blandly settles on a note of sentimental self-congratulation and unruffled triumph. A group-hug of larceny-lite.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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