Ocean’s 8 breezes along the way Debbie Ocean cruises through the luxe Bergdorf Goodman after five years in prison—light on its feet with a calculating mind.
This all-female heist film gets the feel of the fizzy end of this genre (like 2003’s The Italian Job) just right. Combine an eclectic group, quick-witted dialogue, and a complex scheme that angles for a little revenge with a whole lot of cash.
Ocean’s 8 connects loosely to the Steven Soderbergh trilogy that Ocean’s Eleven launched in 2001 by making Debbie (Sandra Bullock of Our Brand Is Crisis) the sister of that film’s lead con man, Danny Ocean (George Clooney, unseen except in a photo). But instead of robbing a Vegas casino, the gals target the Met Gala, a stylish, star-studded fundraiser for New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Debbie first sniffles to the parole board that she’s looking forward to the quiet life. “I fell for the wrong person,” she said. There’s some truth to that latter part, but the chic Debbie has more than a bad romance with gallery owner Claude Becker (Richard Armitage of The Hobbit series) on her mind.
She’s after a six-pound Cartier diamond necklace worth roughly $150 million—a con she hatched while she was in solitary—and she’s good at this. So why stop now?
Debbie quickly reunites with Lou (Cate Blanchett of Thor: Ragnarok), a friend who waters down the vodka at her bar because she won’t waste the good stuff on drunks. They soon enlist down-on-her-luck fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter of The Crown and Cinderella) to get the prized necklace out of a vault, onto starlet Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway of Colossal), and nearer their clutches.
Debbie recruits other buddies, jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling of A Wrinkle in Time) and fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson of The Post), whose garage is full of appliances that her husband thinks she buys on eBay. Lou, like Brad Pitt’s confidante to Clooney’s character, finds the other helpers they’ll need: a hacker named 9 Ball (singer Rihanna of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) and deft pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina of Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and the upcoming Crazy Rich Asians).
The characters don’t have a lot of backstory, but neither did Danny Ocean’s crew, a few of whom appear in cameos. The guys loved the thrill of the job and the freedom that success bought—something the women have in common.
The script by director Gary Ross (Free State of Jones) and Olivia Milch (Netflix’s Dude) points out sexist assumptions that the women use to their advantage. (“A him gets noticed. A her gets ignored. And for once, we want to be ignored,” Debbie says.) It could have been sharper if it did more of this, but mostly, it glides on the twists viewers expect in such a film, along with high-tech wizardry and peeks inside places we don’t usually see. That includes the esteemed museum and the offices of Vogue, which organizes the gala. Lots of designers, models, and stars such as Common, Katie Holmes, and Serena Williams appear as themselves.
Bullock and Blanchett, rocking a wardrobe of jackets and necklaces I envied, have the chemistry of longtime pals. The other women show off their particular heist skills, comic timing, and charisma. Hathaway is hilarious as the actress who vacillates among being vacuous, wide-eyed, and sharp, and Bonham Carter’s awkward designer is another gem. She balances eyeglasses both atop her head and on her face, her jitters and lack of eye contact showing a woman never as confident as she is talented.
Ocean’s 8 loses some steam in the third act once James Corden (The Late Late Show) shows up as an insurance investigator well familiar with the Ocean family. But it soon rights itself with a surprise that, like its cinematic siblings, few will have seen coming. Overall, it’s a lark that’s fun to catch while you can.