It’s ladies night.
After five years in prison and “pledging to go straight,” Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) links back up with her buddy Lou (Cate Blanchett) with a new heist in mind: relieving the most exclusive party of the year of a fortune in jewelry. To pull it off, they’ll need a jewelry expert (Mindy Kaling), a fence with an eye for organization (Sarah Paulson), an expert pickpocket (Awkwafina), a top-level hacker (Rihanna), and a down-on-her-luck fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter). They’ll also need to convince celebrity Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) to wear the $150 million necklace they intend to steal, but what else is Ms. Ocean up to while pulling off the heist of the decade?
After the George Clooney/Brad Pitt 2001 remake Ocean’s Eleven and two sequels (Twelve and Thirteen), serious talk was kicked around about doing an all-female heist film in the same style. Of course, only the first of the series actually featured all men as the criminals before the ladies got in on the act, that after winning back love-interest Julia Roberts. For the all-gals feature, it’s all about the payday and some light revenge, but will the girl gimmick play for audiences or feel too much like going back to the near-empty well of recycled Hollywood ideas?
Written by director Gary Ross and co-written by Olivia Milch, this presumably first installment of a potential trilogy does what it sets out to do, even if it feels a bit effortless on the part of the characters. As a pure comparison, there was always a risk in Ocean’s Eleven that something could go wrong or someone would screw up — more than a few of the guys had questionable levels of professionalism — an element mostly missing in Ocean’s 8; they just seem too good. In spite of having little doubt as to the criminal success of the job, it more than makes up for it in the plan’s devilish details: the bread and butter of any good heist film.
The other thing missing was a sense of true danger — not just going to jail if caught but physical danger; no one was threatening their bodies would never be found. Otherwise, the plot mirrors Eleven down to the blonde buddy threatening Ocean to call it off when a con within a con is discovered. This isn’t a bad thing, however, but everything might have felt more intense knowing someone could be after them more threatening than a mild-mannered insurance adjuster; it might have benefited from a Terry Benedict type of character.
While a fun showing, the final cut feels a bit like Ocean’s Eleven light, so here’s hoping it gets more dangerous for the crew in the inevitable sequel. Ocean’s 8 is rated PG-13 for language, drug use, some suggestive content, and looking fabulous at the MET, dahling.
Three skull recommendation out of four