Summary: Danny Ocean’s sister plans to rob the Met Gala.
I’ve never been too crazy about the Ocean‘s series, but I do like the idea of Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sarah Paulson traipsing around together! Sandra Bullock, as our title Ocean character, grabs seven of her best friends to form her own heist crew, including a hacker (of course) and a pickpocket (duh), so they can rob priceless gems and jewels for the swanky Met Gala, one of the most exclusive events in the world.
While the story is fairly basic and it’s not as creative in its delivery or denoument as it’s male predecessors, it is pretty funny. I watched this on a plane and genuinely chuckled out loud a few times, with most of the fun going to Hathaway playing an exaggerated version of a Hollywood starlet. There’s a great group dynamic between the eight women and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of screentime the more secondary characters had- Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Mindy Kahling all have pretty memorable turns in this. It was nice to see big names like Blanchett and Bonham Carter in the movie but not overpower the dialogue. Also, everyone’s role seemed crucial to performing the heist. Their skills were nicely integrated into each part of the crime.
I will say that Kahling as a jewelry expert was a refreshing change of pace from the original series. It added a different perspective to the kind of heist that was being performed. And shoutout to Awkwafina, who has had a bit of a breakout year and is making BANK with those Google commercials. Get it!
Where the movie falls short is in its reveal of the heist (as all Ocean‘s movies must end) and “Wait, why do they need this? moments, especially in the third act. After Hathaway is revealed to be a part of the crew- not a spoiler, just look at all the promo material where she’s literally standing as one of the eight- the movie goes from that great dynamic to basic exposition dump. It’s like the Harry Potter series going back to Chris Columbus after the wonder that was Alfonso Cuaron but in one movie:
- [stylish introduction and exposition here]
- [buddy buddy dialogue, often amusing]
- [heist planning]
- [hijinks and laughter]
- The Reveal: “How did you rob the Met Gala!?” “LET ME TELL YOU IN BASIC LINEAR, CHRONOLOGICAL FORMAT.”
It feels pretty formulaic and unimaginative. I know there’s an Ocean staple, but as this is a new group of characters, I think it would have been fine to try a new way of revealing the final bits of information. I don’t totally blame the ladies for this.
I also have an issue with a male character from the original series playing a fairly important role in the heist. Callbacks are fine, references are fine- the prominence of this role is what bugs me. You’re taking the effort to bring in a new crew- you could have come up with a character from a similar background. Or even- you’re in NEW YORK CITY. There are street performers or training dancers who could perform this function.
That aside, I enjoyed Ocean’s 8. It was a movie of genuine girl power that felt like even playing field for everyone. It was refreshing to see a movie about women supporting each other that wasn’t about love interests and were more preoccupied with either where their careers were headed or their idea of success. It had little to nothing to do with bringing each other down. I don’t think I need to watch it again, but I’d watch a sequel. I want Helen Mirren in the next one!