Over the years, Hollywood has been trying to increase the demand for more female oriented movies by re-conditioning franchises that have been gestating or thought long dead. After the disastrous “Ghostbusters” retread I was very worried about a female oriented version of “Ocean’s Eleven.” After barely finishing “Ocean’s Twelve,” and skipping “Ocean’s Thirteen” altogether, I had no confidence in “Ocean’s 8,” no matter how many fine actresses were assembled. Thankfully “Ocean’s 8” is proof that these series can be altered to fit the female dynamic and reach a brand new section of movie goers without feeling like pointless pandering, a la (sigh) 2016’s“Ghostbusters.”
After almost nine years in jail Debbie Ocean, the sister of Danny Ocean, is released from jail after falling in with a wrong man and being pinned for a crime. Deciding to get back in to the crime game and reclaim her fortune, she decides to assemble a group of very skilled women for a new heist she has in mind. Along with her best friend and partner Lou Miller (Cate Blanchett), they devise a scheme to steal a necklace from a petulant starlet (Anne Hathaway) that’s worth over $150 million. “Ocean’s 8” is kind of a spin off and a sequel that takes place directly after the Ocean’s trilogy; it is by no means a masterpiece, but it does serve as slick, clever, and often inoffensive fun that lends the “Ocean’s” series its own flavor.
Gary Ross is devoted to banging to the beat of his own drum and thankfully never apes from the original trilogy. While there are nods to the original series for the sake of connecting the worlds, “Ocean’s 8” sets out on its own path with a heist that’s decidedly simpler than robbing a series of casinos. Sandra Bullock is a shockingly good choice to play the mastermind behind the group, and I could easily see her working alongside her brother, committing schemes and cons and delighting in making money. Bullock handles the role with finesse and charisma, lending Debbie a considerable appeal. Cate Blanchett is also a very good second in command who has good chemistry with Bullock. The problem is that the film lacks any real tension or stakes to keep us at all invested. While the film is teeming with style, it lacks suspense and it never quite felt the team were ever in any actual trouble or capable of losing their lives.
That’s probably also because the cast is rich but they lack real chemistry or friction that make them feel like a unit. Lou and Debbie always seem to be working on their own, and characters like Nine Ball feel so utterly gimmicky and one-dimensional. The twist mid-way is also pretty much a yawn, and inadvertently makes the entire team feel like rank amateurs rather than masterminds. The ambiguity of the final scene also feels like a weird tease for a potential crossover, too. I wasn’t so much left on edge, so much as I was confused. That said, “Ocean’s 8” is a perfectly fine heist film with a good sense of humor, a largely talented cast (James Corden excluded), and immense style. I hope if there is a sequel, the stakes are raised much more.
Along with a Digital Copy and a DVD, there are two deleted scenes involving more exposition. “A Heist in Heels” features the mostly female cast discussing the role of women in the film, while Gary Ross explores the idea of celebrating women coming together, as well as capturing the style of the cinematic predecessors. “Ocean’s Team 3.0” discusses the new eight characters, and how the movie celebrates women coming together to work for a common goal, and their differences. Finally there’s “Reimagining the Met Gala,” three featurettes with Nancy Chilton of the Costume Institute of the Met, along with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and Deniel H. Weiss Preisdent and CEO of the Met, all of whom were consulted. They discuss the authenticity of the film’s version, the massive art within the Met, and the fashion of the various stars, which were created by designers like Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, and Prada.