FILM UNFILTERED - All-star cast shines in ‘Ocean’s 8’

FILM UNFILTERED - All-star cast shines in ‘Ocean’s 8’

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In 2016, a gender-swapped reboot of “Ghostbusters” with Melissa McCarthy in the lead crashed and burned. It had less to do with the female-centric recasting and more to do with a plot and storyline that never referenced the original films.

In 2001, Steven Soderbergh updated the rat pack era “Ocean’s Eleven” with George Clooney and then two subsequent sequels. Now comes a new iteration, “Ocean's 8,” that is not only populated exclusively by great actors, but they are also all women and prove they’re just as adapt at pulling off a massive con as their male counterparts were for three films.

For this outing, the team of slick criminals is led by Danny’s recently paroled sister Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock). Bullock excels at being seductive, sneaky and vindictive. She proposes a heist of a $150 million diamond necklace from the neck of a conceited actress Daphne (Anne Hathaway) during the annual Met Gala in New York City.

During a lengthy and extensive introduction to her team, she lays out her plan and the women begin their scheming. Cate Blanchett is her partner, Lou, and is helping Debbie bankroll the operation. Helena Bonham Carter plays Rose, a washed-up fashion designer with heavy debt to the Irish mob, Mindy Kaling is their jewelry expert, Amita, Awkwafina is Constance, a slick and quick street con, singer/actress Rihanna plays their hacker, Nine Ball, and Sarah Paulson plays Tammy, who will hopefully be able to fence the necklace.

There’s the customary montage explaining the proposed plan and then the game is afoot as Debbie starts enacting her devious schemes from bugging the security firm’s offices, using high tech glasses to scan an image of the necklace from the Cartier vault and other small details. Everyone has a role to play and they do so effortlessly with perhaps even more panache and assuredness than expected. If there’s one flaw to this film, it’s that all throughout you know they’re going to pull it off. That may be the greatest error here.

What is enjoyable and where the film really picks up speed is in the latter half when the gala is in full swing. The sleight of hand, the double crosses and the lies and trickery start to pay off. What’s even more enjoyable is how the film skewers and mocks the social elitist types, fashionistas and designers in attendance of this affair. Debbie’s team takes advantage of their egos and pretentiousness and capitalizes off of it at every turn.

Bullock and Blanchett are exceptional here and that is not the surprise. What makes this film nearly as good as its male forebearer is that everybody has a role to play and that is where the strength of these films lay. Kaling, Rihanna but especially Bonham Carter really give the film that added spice in each of their selective and specific roles. Bonham Carter is wonderfully effervescent and flighty and Hathaway also proves to be just as delicious. While the leads are expected to lead, the secondary characters help complement and expand the story.

Director Gary Ross is no stranger to handling large casts with multiple plotlines, having directed 2012’s “The Hunger Games.” While it lacked the suspense and unpredictability of the other “Oceans” films, this one is entertaining.

The film is rated PG13.

The star-studded cast of “Ocean’s 8” features, from left, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter.