‘Ocean’s 8’ delivers playful all-female spin on heist caper
A reboot of a remake is about as meta a commentary of Hollywood’s current state of originality as one is likely to find. Still, “Ocean’s 8” brings a refreshingly unpretentious quality to this all-female, numerically scaled-down heist tale, yielding a movie that’s pleasant, mildly fun and the gender switch notwithstanding, a bit of an old-fashioned throwback.
Sandra Bullock is the Ocean of the title, Debbie, the sister of George Clooney’s character Danny in “Ocean’s 11.” Just released from prison, she quickly sets about acquiring luxury items (in one of the more amusing sequences), then begins rapidly assembling a team to pull off the massive jewel caper — intended to yield millions per woman — that she’s spent the last several years assiduously planning.
Cate Blanchett serves as Debbie’s former partner and level-headed right hand, who’s not especially thrilled when she discovers there’s a modest revenge piece baked into the scheme. After that, the pair dutifully recruits the various specialists they’ll need: a hacker (Rihanna), fence (Sarah Paulson), jewel expert (Mindy Kaling), pickpocket (Awkwafina) and fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter), the last of those necessary to gain access to the Met Gala, where she’ll be outfitting a pampered actress played by Anne Hathaway, who again makes the most of an opportunity to demonstrate her comedy chops.
As with “Ocean’s Eleven” — the original rat pack incarnation and the sequel-begetting 2001 remake — everyone seems to be having a pretty good time, which gives a playful, breezy quality to the relatively thin material.
Indeed, Bullock is the only character with even a hint of a backstory, and while the callbacks to the concept’s sire are relatively minor, they add just enough of a connection to provide a little extra kick.
Of course, this “Ocean’s” follows the all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot, and almost surely benefits from the near-fuming reaction to that exercise. As a bonus, this franchise doesn’t come saddled with a fanboy contingent invested enough to label this a sacrilegious blight on their childhoods.
Directed by Gary Ross (who shared script credit with Olivia Milch), “Ocean’s 8” does come close to bogging down, perhaps inevitably, in the dense particulars of enacting the elaborate plot at the Met, before rallying during its aftermath.
While the film clearly won’t earn many points for originality, the enjoyable parts of this latest wrinkle on the heist movie ultimately manage to come away with a pretty solid score.
“Ocean’s 8” premieres June 8 in the U.S. It’s rated PG-13.