“Ocean’s 8” can’t escape ghosts of Oceans past

Sandra Bullock leads an all-star female cast in the somewhat entertaining but uninspired, stereotypical crime caper "Ocean’s 8."

It’s been 17 years since George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle, among others, teamed up for the remake of the 1960 Rat Pack movie Ocean’s 11 starring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Another 11 years have passed since Ocean’s 13 so it has obviously been a long wait since a character with the last name of Ocean has walked across the screen. The twist this go-around in the all-female Ocean’s 8 is that we get to see Danny’s estranged sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock) organize an epic jewel heist. So was it worth the wait? The answer is a giant, “Eh.” Neither fantastic nor horrible, Ocean’s 8 is a semi-entertaining watchable flick that relies too much on ghosts of Oceans past instead of standing alone on its own merits.

Just like her famous brother, Debbie is facing a parole board after over five years in prison. She cons them into letting her out and subsequently steals her way back to New York City. Danny is never far removed from her thoughts and looms like a shadow in every corner to the point that someone should call Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures to do an investigation. At one point she visits his crypt, but even she questions whether he is dead.

Soon, Debbie meets up with an old partner, Lou (Kate Blanchett) and convinces her to join in a scheme to steal a multi-million dollar diamond necklace from the yearly Met Gala. Of course, they need a crew to carry it out, so they recruit street hustler Constance (Awkwafina), down-and-out fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), fencer Tammy (Sarah Paulson) and pot-smoking hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna).

The trick is to get the heavily guarded necklace off the neck of popular yet melodramatic actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) amidst a throng of rich and famous people. Much like her brother, Debbie lets her desires potentially get in the way of success. With Danny it was love for Julia Roberts. For Debbie its vengeance against the man (Richard Armitage, Thorin from The Hobbit trilogy) who snitched on her. Toss in a savvy insurance fraud investigator (James Corden) with a familiarity of the Ocean family and the plot becomes a little sticky. Or does it?

Director Gary Ross, co-writer for Ocean’s 8 and writer for such films as Pleasantville, The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit and Big, fails to create a work that never gives us a feeling that this motley collection could ever possibly fail. It’s too easy and as such, any sense of suspense flies out the window. It’s wonderful to see Bullock on the silver screen again but her character never seems to be out from under her brother’s shadow. For that matter, her entire crew fails to become something truly different. Carter plays an off-kilter character. Shocking. Kaling has punch lines. Shocking coming from a comedic actress. No one is asked to do much, but that’s not really their fault as there’s nothing fresh for them to work with.

Ocean’s 8 is supposed to be about women empowerment, yet it falls flat on several fronts. What’s sadly stereotypical about it all is that the women work to steal of all things a diamond necklace. Why not something different like say, the Declaration of Independence or the secret recipe to Coca-Cola? All in all, Ocean’s 8 is decent enough entertainment but there are other things in life that are probably more entertaining like puppies playing in a field or watching Ocean’s 11.

On a letter grade scale from “A” being excellent to “F” for failing, Ocean’s 8 receives a C.

Ocean’s 8 is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 110 minutes.

Now showing through June 14 at a theater near you.