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Ocean’s 8 Review

Ocean's 8
RATING:
(3 STARS)

Ocean’s movies are tough to get wrong. It’s true that Ocean’s 8 is the first (at least this century) that’s been made by someone other than the incomparable Steven Soderbergh. But as good as his direction and sensibilities were for Ocean’s 11, 12 (especially), and 13, it wasn’t hard to imagine a successful 8 led by the decidedly comparable Gary Ross.

And that’s exactly what the film turns out to be—a fun caper with a strong cast of actors who have great chemistry among them. What’s especially satisfying about Ocean’s 8 is the way its women create characters who stand on their own. You could have had a film where Sandra Bullock was playing George Clooney playing Danny Ocean, where Cate Blanchett was playing Brad Pitt playing Rusty Ryan, and where Anne Hathaway was playing Andy Garcia playing Terry Benedict. But that’s not the case at all, and the film is extremely successful for it.

Bullock does play the Ocean character. She’s Debbie, Danny’s sister. Danny is dead, and she’s about to be released from prison, ready to resume a life of crime. We see her effortlessly swipe some high-end beauty products from a New York department store and con her way into a luxury hotel room, but that’s child’s play compared to what she cooked up during her five years, eight months, and 12 days behind bars.

She reconnects with her partner, Lou (Cate Blanchett), and the two put together the perfect, all-female team of specialists, including jewel specialist Amita (Mindy Kaling), hacker extraordinaire 9-Ball (Rihanna), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), and the super organized Tammy (Sarah Paulson). Their mark is a six-pound diamond necklace worth in excess of $150 million dollars. Its locked in a vault more than 50 feet underground, so they’ll be stealing it off the neck of a famous actress, Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), while she attends the most exclusive party in the world, the Met Gala.

The film doesn’t really introduce much in the way of obstacles for Debbie and her team. The most complicated the plan gets is when she unilaterally decides to use her ex-boyfriend (Richard Armitage) as a patsy. Their relationship gets a fair amount of time and exposition, but it also lends the film some welcome emotional depth. Otherwise, it’s pretty airy and inconsequential, but it rarely overextends itself and misses on something.

The film’s side characters, as it was with the preceding trilogy, are often the source of the most fun. Rihanna is fantastic as 9-Ball, a frighteningly capable tech wizard who seems equal parts amused and bored by those around her. Awkwafina—had no idea who she was before this—is the film’s charming and kind of crazy millennial. And Sarah Paulson’s half-hearted attempts to escape this world for a quiet suburban housewife existence are as funny as they are flimsy.

Anne Hathaway, however, is the film’s standout character. Kluger is never just one thing, and every time you think you have her pinned down, she becomes something else. Hathaway appears to have put a little of herself in the character (or at least a little of what certain people perceive her to be). That makes her eventual arc feel rather poignant, and I can’t help but feel the role was a little cathartic for Hathaway? It’s also very apparent that she’s having a lot of fun.

Yes, it’s true the film doesn’t have any noteworthy flourishes or pops, and its post-heist debrief goes on a little too long, but overall, this is a worthy entry in a franchise I’ve missed. It’s a step below 11 and 12, but it’s superior to 13, and I’d love to see Debbie (and even Gary Ross if that’s necessary) get the gang back together again.

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