BY Will Cook

Donning her majestically ageless face, Sandra Bullock returns to screens with all the glamour of an A-List film star ready to steal viewer's hearts with an inoffensive and eventually forgettable comedy.

In a media environment saturated with death, destruction, intriguing red herrings and a never-ending list of anxiety-causing plotlines, Oceans 8 is a welcome reprieve. A return to simpler times, the fourth film in the at-times dodgy Oceans franchise does everything it says on the packet. A package that reminds moviegoers that sometimes all you need is a killer (in this case all-female) cast and an engaging story. Throw in some tongue in-cheek humour and you have the makings of a box-office bonanza.

In Oceans 8, Danny Ocean's (played by George Clooney in the original film series) sister has just been released from prison. Searching for the “simple life” Debbie Ocean (Bullock) hatches a plan to pull off the biggest heist of her life. The site of her latest ploy, the Instagram clogging Met Gala. Realising she can’t do it alone, Debbie assembles a rag-tag crew of devishly stylishly deceivers. Amongst the crew, there’s the enigmatic underground nightclub owner Lou (Cate Blanchett), punk hacker NineBall (Rihanna) and the stay-at-home-mum with a passion for robbery Tammy (Sarah Paulson). The team plan to steal a glorious set of jewels from the neck of vain American actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway).

Created by The Hunger Games’ Gary Ross, much has been made of the all-female cast. A shameless cash-grab? A timely nod to the changing tides in Hollywood? Or an excuse to assemble some kick-ass talent? However you choose to respond to this question will probably determine how you feel about this film.

What’s not to enjoy? No, Oceans 8 does not break new ground. In fact, for the first 90 minutes, the film is unashamedly predictable. A first-time filmwatcher can see how successful Debbie and her seven will be in stealing the jewels. Nonetheless, a curveball is thrown in at just the right time, to spark interest and push the film into a category somewhere above happily mediocre.

While James Corden’s police-esque agent does turn up in an attempt to help save the day, there are no damsels in distress in this flick full of chicks. Love interests? Forget about them. Oceans 8 does not rely on traditional tropes that have plagued unsuccessful attempts at female empowerment.

There is something elating about seeing Bullock on-screen. Not only does she carry the film, but the time that is devoted to the other characters sorely misses her presence. While there is an allusion to a same-sex relationship with Blanchett’s character, the Australian quickly disappears. One can’t help but wonder if the studio got a little nervous about a overload of female-empowerment.

Divisive at the best of times, it’s Anne Hathaway who steals the show, playing what could be described as a caricature of everything haters hate about Hathaway. The over the top Daphne Kluger is exactly what Oceans 8 needs to take its charming believability to the next level.

No, Oceans 8 is not in the running for the Academy Awards, nor is it revolutionising the comedy circuit. Leave your brain at the door and bathe in banality. The fashion and cameos may be high-end; however, the charm of Oceans 8 lies in its simplicity.

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