Hot Take: Consistent with the franchise. This’ll be one you’ll happen to trip across on cable in a few years and watch again. The all-female cast doesn’t have as much fun as the all-male Ocean’s Eleven crew but comes pretty darn close.
In 2016, a gender bending twist on Ghostbusters hit theaters and was met with vitriol from Internet trolls everywhere. Despite the fact that I wasn’t overly impressed with the all-female reboot, the film wasn’t the atrocity the anonymous Twitter trolls and the secret Rotten Tomato commenters would have had you believe. With all of the controversy around that film’s release and the firestorm of opinions offered, it was natural to ponder if Ocean’s 8 would receive the same type of reception. Fortunately, the all-female cast of Ocean’s 8 led by Sandra Bullock didn’t have the icy reception of Ghostbusters which means the focus can be on whether or not the film was any good. For the most part, the answer is yes. Considering Ocean’s 8 is the fourth film in the franchise and is more sequel and less reboot since Bullock’s character is Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny Ocean, having enough gas left in the tank in its fourth iteration is a feat in itself. Ocean’s 8 actually ends up being a slick, speedy, fun but formulaic heist flick that rests on its charismatic laurels and mimics many of the characteristics that made Ocean’s Eleven a huge success.
In Ocean’s 8, the recently paroled Debbie Ocean (Bullock) is ready to unfurl a plan to pull off an impressive heist at the annual Met Gala. After five years, eight months and 12 days, she has the plan. She needs a crew and reaches out to her old partner in crime Lou (Cate Blanchett) to assemble the team. In order to pull off the heist of the Toussaint, a $150 million Cartier necklace, they recruit a jewelry maker (Mindy Kaling), a pickpocket (Awkwafina), a hacker (Rihanna), a fence (Sarah Paulson) and a fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter) to execute her plan to steal the necklace from off of the neck of Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the Gala. Much like the original Ocean’s Eleven, there’s a subplot of revenge as Debbie wants to get back at her ex-boyfriend Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), an art dealer who double crossed Debbie and got her sent to prison.
There’s plenty happening here and the cast obviously had a blast making this film. It’s evident in the finished product and helps keep the audience entertained. Bullock takes on the Clooney role while Blanchett is essentially in the spot occupied by Brad Pitt in the original three films. The heist itself is sexy and slick and feels as if it could run side by side the original film and produce a very similar EKG. Even though the heist of the century is about to occur, the film still manages to keep it light and reproduces the chumminess that made the original so endearing. This crew loves being together and to ponder an Ocean’s 9 (and potentially Ocean’s 10 even) doesn’t seem to far fetched although it’s highly unlikely the film will reach the box office numbers of Ocean’s Eleven which somehow banked $183 million domestically and another $267 million worldwide.
It’s great to see a film like this work. While Ocean’s 8 doesn’t quite reach the heights of Ocean’s Eleven, it’s definitely better than Ocean’s Twelve and in line with the finished product of Ocean’s Thirteen. There’s some fan service present (a few original characters make cameos) and Hathaway as Kluger steals the show in her supporting role and the film survives a rather painful performance from James Corden as the insurance investigator looking into the theft that attempts to bog down the final act. The coolest part is the film didn’t really need the brotherly love from the original to stand on its own. It even had a cameo from Matt Damon that hit the cutting room floor (thanks to Damon’s controversial comments on sexual abuse) and watching the film, it didn’t really need it. The biggest criticism might be that the film does feel derivative even if it does stand on its own. Essentially, it’s about having fun and enjoying the twists and turns of a good heist flick and that is where it succeeds.
The thought of female bonding combined with a convoluted, slick heist is appealing.
The idea of girls just wanting to have fun is foreign to you.