Movie Review: Ocean's 8 (2018)
Does Sandra Bullock have to kill off George Clooney in every movie now? Is that a stipulation in her contract?
Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, sister to Danny, who, as the movie begins, gets paroled, visits her brother’s grave (buh-bye, George), and then goes on a high-end shopping scam at Bergdorf’s. I like the scam. She picks some items, plays the rich bitch returning them without a receipt, is frustrated by the poor customer service rep simply following rules, then says, “Well, can I at least have a bag for them?” And out she walks out with the bootie.
After she scams a room at the Plaza for a long soak, she’s ready to call together the old team.
Come back to the nickel-and-dime
OK, so initially it consists of Lou (Cate Blanchett), her partner from way back when, and ... that’s it. The two of them were involved in nickel-and-dime stuff before Debbie got involved, personally and professionally, with Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), a jerky gallery owner who used her to bid up prices of artworks. When the feds closed in, all the evidence, including his quick confession, pointed to her, and she got five years. Now she’s after revenge.
How? As a sideplot while heisting a $150 million Cartier diamond necklace. It will be worn around the neck of famous actress and pain-in-the-ass Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), who will play co-host at the biggest fashion show of the year: the annual Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum.
This means Daphne goes from nickel-and-diming, and then getting scammed herself, to pulling off the heist of the century. It’s like a little league pitcher tossing a no-hitter in the Majors. Yet no one in the movie gives it a second thought because she's Danny Ocean's sister. The movie doesn't give it a second thought. The movie isn't big on second thoughts.
Here, by the way, is our titular team:
- Debbie: Leader, revenge maven
- Lou: Kitchen help
- Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), a Betsey Johnson-like fashion designer on the downside of her career
- Amita (Mindy Kaling), diamonds expert
- Nine Ball (Rihanna), computer hacker
- Constance (Awkwafina), pickpocket
- Tammy (Sarah Paulson), fence and general professional
The eighth comes at the 11th hour: the seeming dupe, Kluger, but I was confused about exactly when she came on board: before or after the emetic? And even with Kluger, shouldn’t it be Ocean’s Seven? Do you count yourself in your own group? And is this a question for linguists or mathematicians?
The scam, complicated and smooth in the “Ocean’s” fashion, veers, at a key point, to idiotic. This is that point: Rather than replace the necklace with the cubic zirconium they’ve created, which would’ve alerted no one, they let everyone know the necklace is missing. So there’s this big search, and the fake is eventually found in a fountain. By Tammy. Everyone seems fine with this—including the necklace’s security detail, which is full of former Mossad agents. The movie has already insulted Mossad by implying its former agents wouldn’t dare enter a ladies room, so this is just more salt in the wound.
But I guess all that hubbub was to create a diversion? Allowing for a bigger haul—swiping the crown jewels from a Met exhibit? News not only to us but to the rest of the team. And it’s only accomplished because Yen (Qin Shaobo), the Chinese Cirque du Soleil dude from the other Ocean’s movies, lends a hand. Lends a hand? Let me rephrase: He does it all. Most of the money they swipe is because of him. So why isn’t he celebrating with the rest? Because he’s a dude? Because he’s Chinese? He didn’t even make the title cut. 很可怜。
Much of the movie is like this: It doesn’t work if you think about it for two seconds. After the haul, James Corden shows up as a super-smart insurance investigator, John Frazier, but once he hits a dead end he lets Debbie point the way. She points it toward her ex, Becker, but Frazier needs probable cause to search his place. So Daphne prostitutes herself to snap a photo of some of the missing jewels. She sends it to Debbie, who sends it on to Frazier, who gets his warrant. How likely is this to stand up in court? What are the odds the photo signatures lead back to Debbie and Daphne and the scam is revealed? And everyone else is discovered? And winds up in jail? And Becker is released? And laughs at all of them?
But whatever. Cue happy ending: Rihanna opens a pool hall—as all hackers do.
“Ocean’s 8,” directed by Gary Ross, has moments, but it doesn’t have much forward movement. It’s both zippy and oddly stagnant. It also bothered me that no one else thought cutting up this priceless Cartier necklace was the wrong thing to do—like destroying a Rodin sculpture.
Here's who I loved: Hathaway, Helena and James Corden. Blanchett is shockingly wasted. The biggest problem may be Bullock. She’s so busy being cool she’s nearly frozen. The plastic surgery doesn’t help. Cate's either. And good god, Mindy, lip injections? You’re supposed to be funny. You’re supposed to be us.
At one point, Debbie says they’ll go under-the-radar because nobody notices women, which, with this crew, is the exact opposite of true. Nobody notices Rihanna? C‘mon. The line should’ve been about how nobody notices older women. Then you hire good actresses in their 50s and 60s who haven’t had plastic surgery and send them off to do this thing. Hollywood: There's still time.