Review: Ocean’s 8

As expected, Ocean’s 8 is Ocean’s Eleven – with women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ocean’s Eleven was a smart and entertaining heist flick with a strong ensemble cast. Ocean’s 8 is too, though we have seen it all before. It doesn’t quite measure up to the 2001 Clooney classic, which was a remake of a 1960 Sinatra classic. But it’s a fun escape with a talented, diverse group of ladies (skewing a bit younger than the recent all-star female cast in Book Club).

Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, sister of the slick and suave and possibly dead thief-extraordinaire Danny Ocean (George Clooney, not seen here). Whereas Danny hatched a plot with 11 guys to rob several Las Vegas casinos in one night, Debbie has a plan to steal a 150-million dollar diamond necklace in the middle of the fashion industry’s biggest celebration of the year, the annual Met Gala in New York City. Debbie recruits a posse of her own to help pull off the job: There’s Lou (Cate Blanchett), Debbie’s longtime partner-in-crime; Amita (Mindy Kaling), a jeweler who knows her diamonds; Constance (Awkwafina), a street con with sleight-of-hand mastery; Tammy (Sarah Paulson) a suburban mom who leads a double life as a fence; Nine Ball (Rihanna), an expert hacker; and Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), a fashion designer who’s a bit past her prime. Together, they work to overcome a series of obstacles that stand between their cut in a fortune and the well-guarded necklace that adorns the neckline of the Gala’s star attraction, world-renowned actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway).

Ocean’s 8 doesn’t exactly have high-stakes drama, because the formula is pretty well established by now. But the stunning scammers are easy to root for, the cameos are fun to spot, and the fashion is a bonus. (Note: I recommend watching the documentary First Monday in May about the Met Gala to gain an even bigger appreciation for just how big a deal this event is among celebrities and fashionistas).

The film clocks in under two hours but does slow down a bit in the middle. It picks up the pace again towards the end, when British actor-comedian James Cordon shows up as a skeptical insurance investigator who’s very familiar with the particular skillset of the Ocean sibs. He helps inject some additional levity and pacing as the jewelry heist adventure comes to a fairly satisfying conclusion. What’s potentially more satisfying? A splash of Clooney. What’s 11+8? Ocean’s 19. I’m just sayin’…

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