As a British friend of mine might say, Ocean's 8 does what it says on the tin. That's not nothing. Here's a clockwork heist that's both more surprising and a touch more plausible than the previous Oceans films, carried out by a squad of women whose every scene together suggests a Vanity Fair cover shoot, all set at the high-fashion May gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You've got stars, gowns, and crisp montage sequences of teambuilding and crime-planning, the two best subjects for Hollywood montage sequences.
You want squad walks? Check. You want a low-key funky soundtrack that forever tries to suggest "Green Onions" without actually playing "Green Onions"? Coming right up. And here's Anne Hathaway, screwball-hilarious as a dimbulb actor but unironically radiant as she beams in a cape more grand than any supervillain's.
All that's engaging enough that it took over an hour of screentime -- and the arrival of James Corden -- before I finally understood what was missing. Surely it's a mistake that the excitable talk-show host swans in late and then steals a movie toplined by ringers like Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, and Helena Bonham Carter? That's not the fault of the women – though it doesn't help that mastermind Debbie Ocean (Bullock) exhibits little chemistry with her right-hand woman, Lou (Cate Blanchett). Instead, it's just that Corden is free to dictate the pace of his scenes, while the women are subservient to the plotty, precision filmmaking of the franchise. They have to sketch characters and friendships in the limited breaths they're given between setting up all the twists and fakeouts.