Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson. Directed by: Gary Ross.
The World Cup is upon us, which means there’s counter-programming going on in your local cinema. Why punt out a big-budget blockbuster when the 8 to 70 male market is cracking some beers and watching the big games? Instead, and perhaps in response, we see this ensemble heist comedy which is being marketed squarely at the ladies of the world.
It’s been eleven years since Steven Soderbergh’s third Ocean’s film, Ocean’s Thirteen, in which another caper went about with the easy charm of George Clooney, but in this post-Ghostbusters world, we have a follow up come soft reboot of the series. This particular installment follows Danny Ocean’s sister Debbie coming out of prison and plotting to steal a priceless necklace with her all lady team.
It might appear to be a cheap bit of cashing in, and perhaps ill-advised after the disaster of the lady lead Ghostbusters, but this feels a little more organic. Maybe the dust has settled or maybe Gary Ross’ easy stylish direction brings charm to a fairly by the books caper movie. Much like a McDonald’s cheeseburger, or a Starbucks coffee there’s nothing here you don’t know well enough, it’s the fourth in a series, in a genre that has tropes stronger than a slasher film.
Ross and his team are not here to reinvent the wheel, they’re here to cut loose for two hours with some breezy fun. As a director, Ross has been varied in his output – Pleasantville, to Seabiscuit, to The Hunger Games, then a side step into Free State of Jones,now this – there’s a varying feel to his films and that makes him a worthy successor to Soderbergh.
His cast is also universally great; Sandra Bullock has always been able to carry a movie, she’s an Oscar-winning actress with some of the most beloved movies under her belt. She doesn’t need to work hard at what she does, she just inhabits the role with the same easy charm George Clooney exuded in his time.
Similarly, Cate Blanchett is clearly having a blast as her bestie Lou, and Anne Hathaway works well channeling her inner Disney Princess as the ditsy character. The support from the likes of Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson and Helena Bonham Carter are all measured enough to get that this isn’t 12 Years a Slave and they don’t over egg it, even if Carter is going broad with her Irish accent (one expects her to scream Eamon at any given point).
Surprisingly, Rihanna and Awkwafina are great in their roles as the other members of the gang, and even James Corden – normally unbearable in anything other than Gavin and Stacey – is fine in his role, but given it it’s such a small role it would be hard to be too irritating.
The film falls down in how it falls into the pitfalls of all caper movies. There’s not much time for emotional engagement, and most conflict appears as if Ross and co have no interest in exploring it further than a sideways glance. And with all capers it falls into the AND THEN THE TWIST, which is followed by another, and another, and another which can sort of make the film feel a little less involving.
On it’s own terms, it’s a fun movie that doesn’t take too much from you as you watch it, and had it been a non “Ocean’s” movie, that was just a film done in the genre about girls doing a heist people might have forgiven it a lot more, but it does fall down when it comes to the amount of lip service it plays to the previous films. If you want an easy couple of hours, check it out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.