2018, PG-13, 110 mins.
Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean / Cate Blanchett as Lou / Anne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger / Helena Bonham-Carter as Rose / Rihanna as Nine Ball / Sarah Paulson as Tammy / Mindy Kaling as Amita / Awkwafina as Constance / Dakota Fanning as Penelope Stern / James Corden as John Frazier
Directed by Gary Ross / Written by Ross and Olivia Milch
confusingly, OCEAN'S 8 comes numerically before the previous OCEAN'S films
- comprised of Steven Soderbergh's 2001 remake of the 1960s Rat Pack
fuelled heist flick, followed by two increasingly inferior sequels in
2004's OCEAN'S TWELVE and 2007's OCEAN'S
THIRTEEN. This may throw casually filmgoers for a loop,
because in actuality this is a sequel to Soderbergh's George Clooney quarterbacked
series and is released 11 years to the day that the last entry hit
cinemas. OCEAN'S 8 is
also an ostensibly female driven entry in this mostly sausage fest of a
franchise, which is initially a refreshing idea, albeit if only done
compliment I'll give OCEAN'S 8 is that - like the prequel films that
inspired it - it boasts a stellar, eclectic, and endlessly likeable cast
that have ample easygoing chemistry. That, and unlike the woefully wrongheaded girl powered GHOSTBUSTERS
film of a few years back, OCEAN'S 8 isn't a lame and lazy reboot of its
series, nor is it trying to be a misguided remake.
Instead, it's set in the world of the old OCEAN'S films and
respects their legacy. Best
of all, it contains a central crime caper plot that's modestly
enthralling, not to mention that it looks, at times, as lush and slick as
any of the previous Soderbergh efforts.
OCEAN'S 8 is hardly the sequel I was clamoring for (especially
after the last two mostly unnecessary sequels), but what helps make it stand
proudly on its own two feet is that it captures the breezy style of the
original 2001 film and is arguably just as slick, charming, and
rather rightfully, never makes an appearance here (which, I think, would
have been distracting). Instead, he remains an influential figure on the outside that
casts a rather large shadow on his sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock,
Clooney's GRAVITY co-star), who we learn
in the opening sections of the film has just spent five years, eight
months, and twelve days in prison for planning a heist.
During her parole hearing she admits to being on the bad end of a
rotten relationship that got her into her mess, and subsequently promises to
stay out of trouble if let go. Obviously,
because she's an Ocean, abandoning the criminal life is next to impossible
for Debbie, and within her first few hours of freedom she's seen engaging
in multiple petty thefts that culminate in her illegally getting a suite
in a posh New York hotel.
Debbie has bigger
fish to fry, though, seeing as she hooks back up with her old partner in
Lou (Cate Blanchett), and reveals to her an elaborate and ambitious plan
to steal a $150 million diamond necklace at the heavily guarded and
secure Met Gala. To make
matters ever more complicated, they plan on stealing the necklace not from
a vault, but rather from the very neckline of famous actress Daphne Kluger
(Ann Hathaway), who will be wearing it during the event.
Realizing the sheer limitless complexity of such a task, Debbie and
Lou decide to recruit a team to pull it all off, including fashion
designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), diamond expert Amita (Mindy
Kaling), computer hacker "Nine Ball" (Rihanna), expert pick
pocket Constance (Awkwafina), and former conwoman turned housewife Tammy
(Sarah Paulson). Considering
that the Met Gala is one of the most exclusive parties around and is
riddled with as much security as a modern prison, Debbie and her crew most
certainly have their work cut out for them.
The mission also becomes deeply personal when it's revealed that
Debbie is embarking on it as a means of avenging the man that wronged her
years ago (Richard Armitage), who was primarily responsible for sending
not return to directorial duties this go around (he now serves as
producer) and pinch hitting for him is Gary Ross (SEABISCUIT,
PLEASANTVILLE, and THE HUNGER GAMES),
and throughout OCEAN'S 8 there's a clear cut willingness on his part to
keep the entire proceedings jubilantly afloat and energized by basically
trying to mimic the past established Soderbergh aesthetic playbook that
typified his OCEAN'S trilogy. Now,
there's something to be said about hiring a new director in an
established series to bring some fresh new stylistic life to it, but Ross
seems determined to make OCEAN'S 8 look and feel consistent with the
previous OCEAN'S films, which works in the film's favor.
OCEAN;S 8 also looks as sumptuously gorgeous as the previous installments,
with cinematographer Eigil Bryld giving the film an invitingly glossy sheen
that not only compliments the high pedigree of actresses on display and
shows them at their best, but it also makes this sequel feel just as lush
and rich as what came before.
Even though I was
hard on the last two OCEAN'S entries, I nevertheless thought they were
watchable on a level of sheer star power alone.
OCEAN'S 8 proudly continues this legacy by gathering together its
actresses - and a few choice surprise cameos by low level members of
Danny Ocean's crew for good measure - and allow for them to really sink
their teeth into their respective idiosyncratic parts with a real
enthusiastic relish that's quite infectious.
In particular, Bullock feels authentic as Danny Ocean's sibling,
and she display's her brother's smooth and low key confidence and
Clooney's unique abilities to utterly own a role with minimal performance
fuss. She's paired
exceptionally well with Blanchett, who brings an ample amount of
free-wheeling sass to her spirited role.
Stealing the movie, though, is Hathaway's unhealthily egomaniacal
and materialistic Hollywood elitist that seems like a sly wink-wink parody
of the types of deeply self-centered, attention seeking actresses that we
see grace every facet of social media on a daily basis.
Hathaway is clearly enjoying chewing scenery here as her
pathetically uptight socialite and is OCEAN'S 8 secret performance weapon.
And this film's
central heist is pretty cool in its own way and would make Danny Ocean
blush with envy, and Ross and his screenwriters seem to be enjoying
navigating through the sheer head spinning implausibility of Debbie's
plan. The plot keeps things
moving gingerly alone and takes a few unexpected detours and twists as well
in the late stages, although I would say that OCEAN'S 8 loses narrative
steam in the third act and seems to be engaging in pure coast mode. There's also an easy claim to be made that, when all is said
and done, this film is just spinning its genre tires as leisurely as what
came before and wallows in predictable clichés and formulas (we get team
recruitment and building scenes, heist planning montages, last minute and
unforeseen heist obstacles...yadda yadda).
At the end of day, OCEAN'S 8 - in you excuse the gender
swapping of characters - is just as routine as most other male dominated
heist films out there.
Yet, there's no denying the modest pleasures to be had in seeing this celebration of its actresses and the unforced chemistry they all have here in abundance, and seeing these shifty individuals with their own unique skill sets come together for the proverbial big con and payday is unpretentious fun. OCEAN'S 8 most certainly doesn't have the dry wit, visual panache, and unpredictable caginess of Soderbergh's first film, but it successfully reignites the franchise out of long standing dormancy. I went into OCEAN'S 8 not expecting much, but emerged from it pleasantly surprised. As far as a sequel to sequels to remakes go, this is one of the better and more surprisingly enjoyable ones. Sarcasm aside and considering this male dominated genre, it's not altogether a bad thing when we get a heist film populated by a wonderful ensemble of actresses that are clearly having a ball playing off of one another that's released at the height of the summer film season when these types of films are not a dime a dozen.