“Ocean’s 8” is Good Old-Fashioned Fun with Larceny
This caper is a breeze.
By way of contrast, a cosmic hellgate opened for the transfer of power between the genders in Ghostbusters. The Force Awakens summoned John Williams’s orchestral pomp for the lightsaber’s leap into Rey’s hand. In Ocean’s 8, on the other hand, Sandra Bullock slips a $150 million necklace out of the Met without even slipping out of her designer heels.
She’s joined by Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter as a team of thieves who conspire to foist a diamond necklace by way of Anne Hathaway’s neck in a crisp, no-nonsense, and drolly amusing heist flick that doesn’t make a big deal out of the fact that the lucrative Ocean’s 11 franchise has just been rebooted with a female-led cast. It raises a martini to its predecessors, and gets on with the job.
The film is directed and co-written by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit), a newcomer to the series. He gets the job done amiably, but it’s disappointing that the producers didn’t put a woman behind the camera. That’s even more overdue than filling the cast with ladies, but I guess we’ll have to wait for Ocean’s…what numbers are left?
Anyway, there are plenty of precious goods left to lift, and this con job centers on the Met Gala. The requisite celebrity cameos take their turn in front of the camera as Hathaway, delighting in her role as a self-centered starlet, swans in on the arm of her designer (Carter, who competes with Hathaway to steal the movie). It’s all part of an elaborate scheme hatched by Bullock, playing the sister of Danny Ocean (formerly played by George Clooney, now permanently absent).
The film’s tone is set from the first scenes, as Bullock manipulates her way out of prison and immediately lies, cheats, and steals her way back into a life of luxury. Ross and co-writer Olivia Milch just keep the pace snapping from there, as Bullock assembles her rogue’s gallery of accomplices. Among them are the seasoned second-in-command (Blanchett), the society insider (Paulson), the tech whiz (Rihanna), the jeweler (Kaling), and the pickpocket (Awkwafina). Men are consigned to bumblers (James Corden as an insurance investigator) and marks (Richard Armitage as Bullock’s art-dealer ex).
It’s all shits and giggles — literally in the latter case, not so much in the former, although a toilet and an explosion of bodily fluids are key to the plot. There’s no superfluous drama, making Ocean’s 8 a pure and 100% guiltless summer pleasure.