Ocean's 8: An All-Female Cast Shines In This Heist Comedy
David Waterson • June 20 2018
Ocean's 8 is a continuation of the franchise launched in 2001 by Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's 11, which was itself a remake of the 1960 film of the same name. Thanks in no small part to the charm of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, as well as the clever heist their characters pull off on a Las Vegas casino, Ocean's 11 was successful enough to earn two sequels: Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen. Unfortunately, the heist series saw diminishing returns at the box office, and concluded with Ocean's Thirteen in 2007. However, director Gary Ross revives the franchise more than a decade later for an all-female reboot with Ocean's 8, from a script he co-wrote with Olivia Milch. Ocean's 8 offers a fun female-fronted summer movie experience as it returns to the world of Ocean's 11, but falls short of elevating the franchise.
The film opens with Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), sister of con man Danny Ocean, being released from prison after a five-year stretch with, I couldn’t help but note, perfect hair and make-up. Debbie has promised the parole officers that her criminal past is behind her and she just wants ‘a simple life’ and ‘to live in the country and breathe fresh air’. But the moment she’s out, she’s back in the game, shoplifting in department stores, impersonating her way into a posh hotel room, and Assembling a Team for a Heist.
Her team includes her best friend (Cate Blanchett), a down-at-heel dress designer (Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Irish, for some unfathomable reason), a hacker (Rihanna, who barely says a thing), an ex-con-turned-suburban mom (Sarah Paulson), a jeweller (Mindy Kaling), a pickpocket (Awkwafina) and, latterly, a vain actress (Anne Hathaway). (Hathaway’s character coming on board is meant to be a surprise plot twist, but we always knew she was going to swap sides because we can all count to eight, right?) It’s a killer cast and, to be fair, there is some appeal in just watching them all, even if they’re horribly underused, as no character has a distinct personality. And the heist? It’s the $150 million Cartier necklace they’re aiming to steal from the Met Gala Ball.
The whole aftermath is a little duff, a lazy clean-up operation which leaves more loose ends flapping than it ties. Top-tier heist films – from this batch, Ocean’s Eleven is the only one – manage to build and build, outdoing themselves with each new flourish, every daredevil reveal. Ocean’s Eight dresses its cast to kill, jumps off the trapeze with all the usual moves, and then forgets about its encore.