Ocean’s 8 is quite good and has mostly avoided the online sexist backlash that sank the Ghostbusters reboot before audiences even gave it a chance. That film was a well-done, charming and funny summer blockbuster with franchise potential, but it was all too little too late because fans picked a suspicious time to finally decide they’d seen one too many remakes. How is the situation with Ocean’s 8 different?
It’s not. Ocean’s 8 is also a well-done summer tentpole movie. It’s a comic heist romp as bubbly and effervescent as a glass of champagne. Like many heist movies, it pulls the real rabbit out of the hat in the last 15 minutes or so, after you think the trick is over. It’s a breezy summer blockbuster with lots of great actors having fun together, and that’s all it has to be.
Debbie Ocean, the estranged sister of eponymous con man Danny Ocean, is fresh out of prison for her own undisclosed crime. She’s been plotting her own elaborate heist for the five years she’s been behind bars. She wastes no time and assembles her own team of criminals to band together and rob an attendant at New York City’s annual Met Ball, a diamond necklace valued at $150 million.
Everyone in this movie is a name – there’s Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, not to mention countless cameos. But director Gary Ross doesn’t treat this like a gimmicky project full of celebrity appearances. The main standout of this cast, surprisingly, is Anne Hathaway. She’s very funny in this. She’s gotten a bad rap since she won the Oscar, a reputation of the try-hard it-girl. This part shows her throwing that back in audience’s faces in a clever way. Newcomer Awkwafina is hilarious as well. She’s a breath of fresh air.
The script by Ross and Olivia Milch is as clever as it needs to be. It’s zippy and entertaining the entire way. Like any good heist movie, this has its own set of bells and whistles that keep the audience impressed, and wondering how they’re going to figure out the next thing. But that said, this is a routine heist movie. Under the surface, it’s doing something you don’t realize immediately.
So, I ask again, why is Ocean’s 8 being treated differently than the “Ghostbusters” reboot? Is it because there’s more name talent here? Is it because this brand isn’t quite as cherished as something like “Ghostbusters?” Is it because the George Clooney “Ocean’s Eleven” is, itself, a remake? I’m not sure. But, I do hope this film is given the time of day because it’s really quite enjoyable. It’s glitzy and fun, but it’s also saying something in its own sneaky way about gender roles and what’s expected of women in a situation like this. Bullock has a line when she’s pitching her plan, “a man gets noticed, a woman gets ignored.” That could very well be the entire thesis statement of a female-driven heist movie.
This cast has great chemistry, and you can tell they’re having fun. That’s enough to justify overlooking this film’s shortcomings. The heist, itself, is a bit by-the-numbers, and it’s packed tight, and there’s little room to breathe. Everybody here is bringing something unique to the project, and you wish the film could have given them more time to develop these characters. In the end, though, you leave hoping they make another movie, and perhaps that’s the whole point.