It all started in 1960 with the memorable Rat Pack Vegas heist picture Ocean’s 11, and then continued with a trio of reboots starting in 2001. Ocean’s 11, 12 and finally 13 were (mostly) male-driven con job movies masterminded by director Steven Soderbergh and producer Jerry Weintraub. When Clooney, Pitt, Damon & Co. decided to give it up in 2007 with the very entertaining Ocean’s 13 (making up for the indulgences of 12), the franchise looked to be done, especially with Weintraub’s death three years ago. But now, joined by producer Susan Ekins, Soderbergh is extending the franchise with a female cast for Ocean’s 8, and as I say in my video review (watch it above) the film is loaded with style, fun twists, and exactly what you hope for in summer escapist fare. Instead of Vegas or Europe, the setting for the biggest jewel heist ever – in plain sight – is New York City’s Met Gala, held every year on the first Monday of May.
Credit new director Gary Ross and his co-writer Olivia Milch for the clever switch-up: Now Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is in charge rather than brother Danny, the character George Clooney so smoothly played in the last three films. We learn right at the top, with Debbie out of prison after a six year stint, that Danny has passed on to that great casino in the sky. Debbie’s had plenty of time to dream up plans for the greatest heist yet and it involves snatching a $150 million diamond necklace to be worn at the Met Gala by Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), a famous actress who is also serving as the main promotional draw for the event.
Once out of the slammer, Debbie goes about putting her dream team together with the help of old partner in crime Lou (Cate Blanchett). They enlist a group of women with necessary specialties – jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), street con Constance (Awkwafina), fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson), computer hacker Nine Ball (Rhianna), and fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter).
Each puts her skills to work in planning the ambitious heist and ingeniously making it a reality since Cartier has absolutely no interest in ever letting this particular diamond out of its vault. A lot of the fun that Ross and Milch have devised is in watching the resourceful gang getting this crown jewel on Kluger’s neck in the first place.
It’s a complex blueprint Debbie Ocean has laid out, with a lot of moving parts. If you’ve seen any previous Ocean’s picture you know not everything is as it appears, and the twists and turns keep coming in entertaining fashion, and in this case, fashions. In addition to the heist aspect, this movie also is a sly satire on the high fashion industry and the over-the-top showcase it gets each year at the Met Gala, essentially an outrageous charity event where no attire is too extreme. There are a lot of fun cameos thrown into the mix, as you might expect, but the strength is in the expertly chosen main cast, who all deliver in style. Bullock is ideal as the determined Ocean out to out-do older brother Danny. Ironically, as in Gravity, Bullock has found a vehicle in which to dispose of a Clooney character in one way or another.
Blanchett nicely balances out Bullock’s Debbie, and you believe this pair has pulled off a few fine con jobs in their day. Among the others, Bonham Carter is a riot as a not-quite-top designer who manages to weasel her way into the confidence and bosom of Kluger. Hathaway has a field day with her vain character, stealing every scene she’s in. Rhianna as the hacker Nine Ball also manages to stand out in this crowd. And in case you wondered, there are a couple of men featured along the way, including an old nemesis of Debbie’s named Claude Becker who gets set up as Kluger’s date for the Gala, with the emphasis on set up. James Corden arrives late in the film as a take-no-prisoners insurance investigator trying to solve the case.
Ross has done a fine job taking on the reins of the franchise from Soderbergh and shows he too knows the ropes of this genre very well. It’s a pleasure. Warner Bros releases it Friday.
Do you plan to see Ocean’s 8? Let us know what you think.