Co-Writer-Director Gary Ross revisits Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven universe to deliver Ocean’s Eight, a heist film with a female bent. Does this film capture the fun spirit of the original or is it time for the Ocean’s franchise to just pack it in?
Meet Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), ex-con and sister to Danny Ocean (George Clooney). Debbie just did a stint in prison and as soon as she’s out, she looks up her friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) to hatch a new plan. Debbie wants to strike the annual Met Gala and steal a hefty diamond necklace from actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway). In order to beat security, Debbie will need a team of pros including: Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), a fashion designer that will work with Daphne; Amita (Mindy Kaling), a disgruntled jeweler that will forge a fake; Nine Ball (Rihanna), a hacker; Constance (Awkwafina), a sleight-of-hand expert; and Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a fence and procurement expert. Will Debbie’s plan work? Do you even need to ask?
The biggest problem I had with this film is that there’s no real antagonist. Yes, Debbie wants to even the score with an old ex, Claude (Richard Armitage), but unlike Andy Garcia, Vincent Cassel, and Al Pacino in the previous films, Armitage is almost more of an afterthought than a true villain. That’s not to say a heist film needs an antagonist, the problems the job itself presents can be the obstacle to overcome, but everything here happens pretty easily for Debbie’s gang. Even law enforcement, represented by James Corden, doesn’t really factor in until the end of the film and is more of a frenemy than a true antagonist. As a result, there’s no real tension in the film. You never feel at any time that Debbie and her crew won’t succeed. Also, another thing that really irritated me about this film was the fact that—aside from its blatant similarity to Ocean’s Eleven—is that the trailer ruins one of the major twists and that is infuriating. On top of having a fairly predictable movie, the trailer is ruining the story’s twists months in advance!
And yet, despite these problems, I really enjoyed Ocean’s Eight for what it was. I know. That makes zero sense. That enjoyment is completely attributed to the delightful cast. All the ladies attack their roles with aplomb and the whole crew has great chemistry. It was plain that the cast had a ball making this film and that joy makes the film’s problems easier to digest.
While Ocean’s Eight is by no means a great film, it is a fun caper that will keep you entertained. The cast is great together and a lot of fun. I would like to see them all again in Ocean’s Nine, but hopefully with a stronger script.