Past the Popcorn provides South King Media with exclusive reviews of Theatrical and Home Video entertainment. We aim to dig just a little deeper than the surface of what we watch.
It seems appropriate that the latest entry in this numbered heist movie franchise is being released exactly eleven years to the day after the last chapter was released on June 8, 2007, given that the franchise kicked off with Ocean’s Eleven in 2001. That movie was a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name, which featured Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean, the criminal mastermind behind an ambitious Las Vegas casino heist. Sinatra’s Ocean had a crew of eleven for his heist, as did George Clooney’s Danny Ocean in the remake. The new film, Ocean’s 8, mixes things up a little bit, replacing Danny Ocean with his sister Debbie. And as the title suggests, Debbie doesn’t need so many in her crew to pull her job.
Ocean’s 8 does take place in the same universe as the Clooney films, with Sandra Bullock playing her Gravity co-star’s equally theft-inclined sister. A couple of the stars from the original crew show up in brief cameos, but for the most part, Debbie runs a new show.
After getting released on parole, she heads to New York where she reunites with her old friend and partner Lou, played by Cate Blanchett. She wastes no time in proposing a big heist and before you know it the pair is putting together a team. The plan is to steal a $150,000,000 necklace being worn to the Met Gala by the movie star Daphne Kluger, played by Anne Hathaway. For those counting, that is three Oscar-winning actresses already in this movie and the cast is filled out with some of the most talented stars in the world today, including Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Sarah Paulson. There is not a single weak link in the cast.
Like the Clooney films, one of the main selling points of Ocean’s 8 is that it is a movie which lets its movie stars be movie stars; quite literally, in the case of Hathaway. They get to dress stylishly, act badass, say slick lines of dialogue, and just be darn cool. In the days since the fall of the studio system, cinema has become more of a director and writer’s medium, but just like in the classical Hollywood days, sometimes an audience just wants to go to the movies to see some of their favorite stars be larger-than-life. This movie does that and as a result it is just damn cool from start to finish.
The counter to the coolness factor would be that the movie is not all that original. Whereas the 2001 Ocean’s Eleven felt extremely fresh when it was released, Ocean’s 8 is too much of a direct remake of that film to really distinguish itself. The characters played by Bullock and Blanchett follow eerily similar character paths to those of Clooney and Brad Pitt in the original film and the movie’s central heist seems to hit many of the same beats as the casino heist in the original film. That said, Bullock and Blanchett are such likeable anti-heroes in the movie that it is easy to forgive the obvious parallels to their male counterparts and the same comparisons to the previous film cannot be so easily drawn for the rest of the crew, so they do feel like wholly new characters.
Like most crime capers, digging too deep into the plan and the execution of the heist may lead to the discovery of some holes in the plot, and sometimes the whole thing does seem just a little too easy, but to focus on these details would only serve to ruin an otherwise stylish and entertaining romp led by some of the most badass ladies in Hollywood. I would recommend leaving the investigating to the insurance investigators and allow yourself to simply enjoy the ride.
Ocean’s Eight opens today at the AMC Kent Station 14, the AMC Southcenter 16, the Century Federal Way, and Regal’s The Landing 14.