Gary Ross is back in his familiar director’s chair for yet another “Oceans” film, but this time, the crew is all female, lead by Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney), the ring leader of the famed Las Vegas heist films in the early 2000’s. While the original “Oceans 11” starring Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra was made in 1960 and the remake in 2001 with two sequels all focusing on completing an elaborate robbery, this new “Oceans 8” is a stand-alone movie, no prior “Oceans” viewings are necessary.
Ross and Olivia Milch co-write the story starring Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, and Mindy Kaling. It’s a star-studded action-thriller that is purely preposterous good fun.
Debbie is released on parole after serving more than 5 years behind bars thanks to her ex-boyfriends inability to keep his mouth shut. Immediately upon release, with $45 in her pocket and the clothes she was arrested in, she proves that her intellect and confidence are all she needs to get back in the game. Reconnecting with Lou (Blanchett), the two get the wheels turning in the most painstakingly intricate jewel theft ever conceived. With the help of a few contacts all with their own special set of skills, the group of women target a Cartier necklace at the Met’s annual gala, the 1st Sunday in May.
Debbie’s plan is complicated and outrageous to say the least, but always intriguing and somehow believable. Her attention to detail and her keen understanding of people, create outrageously funny situations. Using A-Lister Daphne Kluger’s (Hathaway) jealousy of another actress (Dakota Fanning) to gain access to the coveted Cartier necklace and convincing Rose Weil (Carter) to design a dress for Kluger for the gala. The heist plays out with precision accuracy, but will Debbie’s need for vengeance be that one glitch in the plan? It’s a thrilling and captivating story that had me glued to the screen as I got to know these very different characters all working together for the big payoff.
Bullock leads the pack with confidence and grace and Blanchett creates a character that we feel has an interesting back story, inviting us to know more. Together, the pair feel like old friends, understanding one another’s every move and thought. Kaling’s character of an unmarried woman living under the watchful and judgmental eye of her mother is the comedic element that helps weave together a more light-hearted film. Her timing and deliver balances the subtle humor of the other characters whose situations create the humor. The standout of the film is Hathaway as she creates a narcisstic and not-too-bright lead actress, always wanting to be the center of attention. Her reactions to men, competition, and body image are simply priceless. It’s her performance that, in the end of the film, makes you realize she’s an actress’s actress!
While the story-line is truly ridiculous, it’s great escapism and entertainment. It’s a formulaic film, following its male predecessors, but accentuating the interactions of women. The line uttered by Bullock’s character, “A him gets noticed. A her gets ignored. For once we want to be ignored,” is one of the most memorable and timely of the film. The rest of the story is great editing and watching all the pieces fall into place. There are also quite a few surprise cameos throughout the film and particularly at the end that will bring a smile to your face. It’s a fast-paced, comedic, heist film that balances out the gender scales for everyone to enjoy. It’s not too often that a sequel can shine like a Cartier diamond necklace, but “Oceans 8” pulls it off without a hitch.
3 1/2 Stars