You know exactly what you want out of Ocean’s 8, and the movie’s more than happy to deliver. Whatever its shortcomings, there’s not a lot of films that can say that. There’s glitz, glamour, talented actresses, diamonds, a daring heist, expensive dresses, and a good time to be had for everyone.
It is, of course, a spinoff of the latest set of Ocean’s Eleven movies, and follows the same premise: a con man (or woman) decides one bright morning to rob something extremely valuable and puts together a group of talented criminals from different disciplines. This movie does the right thing, I think, by trimming down the number of characters: unless you’re Robert Altman, you cannot easily have eleven characters and do justice to all of them; I would argue eight is already a couple too many.
The casting sold me the ticket: Sandra Bullock, as the eponymous Ocean, and Cate Blanchett, as her second-in-command, in fact pretty much carry the entire movie with their easy camaraderie as they lay out an intricate plan to steal an enormous diamond necklace from the Met Gala. They’re bold, smart, and resourceful. I’d been happy with an Ocean’s Two that was just the two of them robbing a liquor store! Anne Hathaway runs away with her playful take on a ditzy Hollywood diva. The rest of the cast are reduced to helping out during the heist: Sarah Paulson is a force of nature as a dramatic actress, but is relegated to working logistics, and I’d never seen Awkwafina in anything but she seems to have an improvisational comedic talent that is never exploited.
As you might expect, everything related to production is polished to a glossy perfection, from the performances to the sets to the direction to the editing. It’s very enjoyable to see the initial plan be executed: I felt the main heist was more realistic than those of the other Ocean’s films, less reliant on sci-fi technology, and more importantly there’s less of the plan that is hidden from the audience just for the sake of having a big reveal at the end (although there is some of that, too). If there’s any fault to find, it’s that there’s very little tension once things get going, as they’ve come up with such a solid plan that it really goes off more or less without a hitch. I missed those tense moments in which, even just for a second, even if you know better, you fear that they may get caught. There’s also no main antagonist to take down (I’m thinking of how Andy García made you want him to be robbed in Clooney’s Eleven), although there is some bonus comeuppance to get from some incidental douche.
I saw the ways in which it could have been taken a step further, but in all, Ocean’s 8 does everything it set out to accomplish and offers an elegant, fun caper for the summer.