It’s been more than a decade since director Steve Soderbergh wrapped up his star-studded Ocean’s trilogy, but everyone likes a good heist movie, so it’s no surprise that Warner Bros. is bringing back the concept and going with an an-all female crew. Director Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) takes the reins from Soderbergh, while Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway step in for George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.
Out on parole after being locked up for more than five years, Debbie Ocean (Bullock), the younger sister of the now deceased (?) Danny (Clooney), has spent her time away working up a plan. She intends to use the Met Gala to draw out a famed Cartier diamond necklace valued at $150 million by having movie star Daphne Kluger (Hathaway) wear it on the red carpet, unwittingly allowing Debbie and her team to swipe it.
Like her brother, Debbie will need to recruit a team to pull off the job, starting with her old partner in crime, Lou (Blanchett), who target the struggling fashion icon Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter) to ingratiate herself to Kluger so that she can design her outfit for the Gala, complete with the necklace. They’ll also recruit a pickpocket, a black market businesswoman (and house mom), a jewelry maker and a hacker to execute Debbie’s plan.
As a bonus, Debbie has a chance for revenge against the man who got her in trouble in the first place in art dealer Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), who is Daphne’s plus-one and in perfect position to be set up as the fall guy. With everything on the line Debbie will try to mastermind the heist and frame her ex for the crime, and maybe make her brother proud while she’s at it.
If you liked the previous Ocean’s films you should enjoy this one as well. There’s all kinds of clever setups and manipulations, sleight of hand, crosses and double crosses, and all the other stuff that makes good heist movies fun. It isn’t nearly as elaborate as taking down casinos in Las Vegas, but we still found ourselves fully invested.
Chemistry was always key to the previous trilogy’s success, and the cast here does a nice job of matching the easy charm and humour that dripped from Clooney and Pitt. Bullock was a great choice to be the lead, and Blanchett fits right in as her right-hand woman. Nothing is ever taken too seriously and yet they never come across as anything less than prepared and capable.
There are a handful of cameos to tie the film to its predecessors, which is cool for those of us that really enjoyed the earlier Ocean’s movies (well, at least 11 and 13). James Corden pops in later on as the insurance investigator and is very likable and jovial in the role, which helps keep things light even when they should be getting more serious.
Part of Ocean’s 11 strength was the depth of its cast. Sure, Clooney, Pitt and Damon were the headliners, but underneath you had the likes of Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Don Cheadle and future Academy Award winner Casey Affleck. While Ocean’s 8 is comparable at the top, the bottom of the cast is dicey, particularly Mindy Kaling, who always seems to play Mindy Kaling, Rihanna (ultra talented but not much of an actor) and the mostly unknown Awkwafina.
Ocean’s 8 is also missing one key element: a villain. The previous trilogy featured the likes of Al Pacino and Andy Garcia. Here, we guess it’s Richard Armitage? Except not really. He’s not on the screen enough and doesn’t have any direct role or investment in stopping the heist. Without someone to root against there’s not as much to root for.
THE BONUS FEATURES
There are three “making of” style featurettes covering more than 30 minutes, one about filming at the Met, one about the fashion and costume design of the film, and one that covers the eight primary cast members. It’s standard stuff where everyone is great and fun to work with, and everyone looks amazing. There are two deleted scenes as well, but they’re less than two minutes combined.
Ocean’s 8 keeps the series’ trademark visual style and effortless charm intact, and it’s an enjoyable romp from start to finish.