'Ocean’s 8' Review: Female-led Heist Film Offers an Enjoyable Ride

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Posted: Jun 16, 2018 12:01 AM
'Ocean’s 8' Review: Female-led Heist Film Offers an Enjoyable Ride

There’s no easy way to reboot a reboot.

In 1960, the original Ocean’s 11 hit theaters with a cast that included Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Four decades later, George Clooney teamed up with Brad Pitt and Matt Damon for a remake of the film and that reboot led to two sequels. Now, the concept has returned to the big screen in Ocean's 8, a film that continues the story but also strives to restart the series from a new perspective.

Ocean’s 8 changes up the formula by featuring an all-star cast of female characters. The film is directly connected to the Clooney-led trilogy.  

Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the sister of the late Danny Ocean (Clooney). Debbie is fresh out of prison. Her years behind bars have only fueled her passion to pull off a major heist, a robbery that involves a group of women coming together to steal a valuable piece of jewelry.

Debbie enlists the support of Lou (Cate Blanchett), a fellow well-known thief. The duo then recruit an eclectic group of women including designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling) and Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a stay-at-home Mom who robs trucks in her free time. Rihanna also joins the fun as Nine Ball, an expert in surveillance and computer hacking.

Their target: Daphe Kluger (Anne Hathaway), an A-list actress set to host the annual Met Gala. Debbie Ocean's crew plans to steal the gorgeous necklace that Kluger will be wearing to the event.

The early scenes in the feature show the team getting together but as the story continues, its unique qualities start to take shape. The Met Gala is one of the most highly-publicized events in New York City so the script by Gary Ross and Olivia Milch has fun with the concept of celebrity culture. From a designer’s ill-fated attempt to remain relevant to an actress’ superficial jealousy about that designer, the heist movie takes pleasure in gently mocking some of its high-class subjects.

The heist itself is well-staged with Ross, who also serves as the director, crafting a unique depiction of the gala, one that the thieves relish in. There are elaborate costumes, great cameos and beautiful staging that really set up the heist nicely.

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Part of the fun of these heist films are the surprises that occur in the feature’s second half and there are plenty of neat surprises here. In the film's second half, James Corden also joins the excitement as insurance investigator John Frazier, a man with a history with the Ocean family.

In its running time, Ocean’s 8 packs a lot of fun but there are times when it feels like it misses some big opportunities. Stars like Helena Bonham Carter and Ann Hathaway are given the chance to shine in their supporting roles but others, like Blanchett and Kaling, aren't given much to do. Ross, who previously directed The Hunger Games, seems game for anything here. But the movie, while entertaining and satisfying, never fully reaches its full potential.

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