“Ocean’s 8” Movie Review


      After a hiatus of over ten years, the “Ocean’s 11” franchise returns with “Ocean’s 8”, an all female spin off that moves on from the events and characters established in the original trio of films (not accounting for the 1960 film of which the 2001 film is based on) , while introducing all new ones.  Directed by Gary Ross from a screenplay by Ross and Olivia Milch, “Ocean’s 8” centers around the younger sister of Danny Ocean, Debbie (Sandra Bullock), who has spent the previous five years in prison, having been caught doing exactly the kind of work her brother was also famous for.  Apparently, it runs in the family.

     Given the time elapsed since the franchise’s last outing, you would expect the heist the story is built around to be significantly more complex and high tech than what Danny and company tackled in the previous entries.  Actually, the theft Debbie’s crew involves themselves in carries a significant financial haul, but initially comes across on screen as a relatively simple swipe.  So much so, that you may begin to think the need for eight players and their various criminal specialities is bit overkill.  But then you realize the crew is up against a lot more than originally thought.  Particularly when the various twists are revealed in the third act and you realize the leaders of the bunch had plenty more up their sleeves all along.  Otherwise known as the formula all of the films in the franchise are assembled from.

     In the opening scenes, we see Debbie’s release from prison, as well as the answer to whether or not being jailed for your crimes results in rehabilitation or an instant act of recidivism.  It’s clear from the onset that Debbie plans on continuing to do exactly what she is best at, that being stealing from other people for a living.  In the initial moments of the film, she uses a number of ruses to do everything from stealing clothes and perfume, to getting a free stay in a luxury hotel on someone else’s dime.  It’s not long before she makes contact with her former partner in crime, a bar manager named Lou (Cate Blanchett), as the duo begin the early stages of plot to steal a Cartier diamond necklace worth an estimated $150 million.

     After recruiting their team, which is comprised of a computer hacker referred to as 9 Ball (Rihanna), a fashion designer named Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), a pick pocket artist named Constance (Awkwafina), a jewelry designer named Amita (Mindy Kaling), and a semi retired thief named Tammy (Sarah Paulson), Debbie and Lou put their spiffy plan into action.  Essentially, they want Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), a famous and well know actress, to wear the aforementioned diamond necklace to the annual Met Gala, where they will attempt to steal it right off her neck.  Sounds easy right?  Well, if you’ve partaken in either of the previous three films, you know these plans tend to be multi layered, often allowing the audience a small glimpse of what is actually happening in real time.  And though at face value what we are seeing on screen appears simple enough, there is always more going on behind the scenes.  In other words, slight of hand is always in play.

     As an entertainment, “Ocean’s 8” plays extremely well, maximizing the well chosen talents of each actress within Debbie’s crew and giving each of these ladies opportunities to shine throughout.  A wise choice was made in this regard by going with the character acting chops of Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, and Rihanna, rather than overpopulating the group with actresses of whom we are accustomed to seeing as leading women.  There just wouldn’t be room to give everyone the moments they deserve.  With that said, it is Bullock and Blanchett who dominate the proceedings in the ways you would expect, bringing the necessary hard edge to their characters who are clearly accustomed to pulling off the kind of job depicted in the story with razor sharp precision, leaving no detail unaccounted for.

     In a story where everything must go right in order for this collection of anti-heroes to succeed, the expected plot holes are there should you choose not to ignore them.  This becomes particularly obvious when an insurance investigator seems to have taken the lead in the ensuing investigation into the missing necklace without a representative from the police department in sight.  But you tend to forgive much of this since the ladies bring so many wonderful attributes to the table, leaving you wondering how cool a team up between Debbie and Danny, along with members of their respective crews, would be in the inevitable sequel sure to come down the line.  Although, such a collaboration may not be in the cards since it is made clear early on by Debbie and Lou that they don't work with men.  Considering the egos which would be involved, I can’t imagine why.  GRADE: B