weather icon Mostly Cloudy

‘Ocean’s 8’ fails to generate many waves

Eleven is greater than eight. It’s also greater than 12 or 13. And, if memory serves, eight is slightly less than 13 but much greater than 12.

That isn’t the product of a failing education system. It’s an assessment of the “Ocean’s” franchise, the latest installment of which finds Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) stepping into her brother Danny’s designer shoes.

The promising yet slight “Ocean’s 8” begins the same way as 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” as an Ocean pleads her case before the parole board. Moments later, Debbie slinks out of prison after a five-year stretch looking fabulous in the same high-end dress in which she was busted.

The prison diet obviously agrees with some people.

Bullock nails the appropriate swagger as Debbie cleverly grifts her way back into a lavish lifestyle, but that burst of slyness is never again duplicated.

Debbie meets up with her partner, Lou (Cate Blanchett), and the two nicely replicate the George Clooney-Brad Pitt dynamic of the original trilogy. Bullock’s playful confidence and throwback glamour are a good match to Clooney’s, and I’d pay to see them star in one of those 1980s-style body-swap comedies.

To pull off the heist Debbie has spent the past five years planning, she and Lou begin assembling their all-female crew, including jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), fence-turned-soccer mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson) and street hustler Constance (rapper-comedian Awkwafina).

Finding a hacker proves problematic as Debbie keeps rejecting foreign candidates. “Aren’t there any hackers who aren’t Russians?” she complains. Lou responds, “There’s barely any Russians who aren’t hackers.” It’s one of the few times the script, by director Gary Ross (“The Hunger Games,” “Seabiscuit”) and newcomer Olivia Milch, rises above its pedestrian dialogue. The interactions between the characters rarely crackle the way they did within Clooney’s crew.

Nine Ball (Rihanna), the hacker they eventually settle on, may have been the most difficult to locate. But it’s bankrupt, has-been fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter) who has the most responsibility: convincing Hollywood A-lister Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) to let Rose dress her for the Met Gala, then acquiring the targeted 6-pound, $150 million diamond necklace for Daphne to wear.

“Ocean’s 8” whiffs on its opportunity to make a social statement. Debbie insists on having an all-female crew because men always get noticed, women don’t, and for once she wants to use that to her advantage. Then their heist takes place at the Met Gala, the one place on the planet where no one ever notices men.

As for that heist, there’s simply no way it took Debbie five years to plan — unless she’s really bad at her job.

The best thing about heist movies is all the impossibilities the thieves must overcome. But “Ocean’s 8” offers little in the way of conflict, obstacles or setbacks.

In “Ocean’s Eleven,” to rob the Bellagio vault, Danny and his crew encounter “a security system that rivals most nuclear missile silos,” including rotating six-digit access codes, fingerprint and voice recognition, motion detectors and “the most elaborate vault door ever conceived by man.”

In “Ocean’s 8,” the necklace’s clasp proves difficult to open.

The spinoff makes for a fun hang, especially when Bullock and Blanchett interact. And it’s a pleasure to watch Hathaway as she leans into many of the negative assumptions and rumors about her.

But Kaling is underutilized, and scenes that feel like they should set up a coming-out party for Awkwafina, much like the way Tiffany Haddish broke out of last year’s “Girls Trip,” rarely materialize.

Although this “Ocean’s” may not make many waves, it offers a relatively cool break from the summer heat.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)