The Ocean’s movies aren’t the greatest films known to mankind. They’re not particularly deep, and they relish in our love for celebrity and actors bouncing off each other. But they’re endlessly rewatchable, and the newest entry in the series, Ocean’s 8, is no different. It features glamorous celebrities having a ball as they plan an elaborate heist that will dazzle you not only with what’s being stolen, but with how the crew managed to steal it. If you overlook last year’s Logan Lucky (and you shouldn’t because it’s great), we haven’t had an Ocean’s movie since 2007, and Ocean’s 8 shows that it’s been far too long since we’ve had pretty people having a ball by committing a grand victimless crime.
Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has just spent the last five years in prison, and rather than reforming, she’s been planning. Immediately after getting out of the slammer, she’s up to her old tricks and enlisting old pal Lou (Cate Blanchett) to put together a heist to steal the Toussaint, a diamond worth $150 million. They plan to put the diamond on the neck of movie star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) and then employ a team of specialists, including hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), and fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson) to pull of the elaborate heist during the Met Gala.
Ocean’s 8 plays by all the familiar beats of an Ocean’s movie, and you can just kind of wrap yourself in it like a warm, soft blanket. Director Gary Ross doesn’t quite have Steven Soderbergh’s stylistic flourishes, but he knows how to keep the pacing on track and to trust his actors to be cool, calm, and collected. It may not be Soderbergh’s level of Ocean’s, but it’s not so off brand that you’ll mind a different director behind the helm (although if they do a sequel, and they totally should, I’d love to see a woman directing the next installment). There’s something just a bit jazzier and a bit more freeflowing about Soderbergh’s movies whereas Ross is about getting down to business.
But Ocean’s 8 also has a different guiding ethos. As Debbie tells the crew, “A him gets noticed, but a her gets ignored,” and for once they want to be ignored. While the male-led Ocean’s movies are about being loud and using sleight of hand to distract the marks whether it be with fake noses (#TheNosePlays), ridiculous costumes, or just balloons to cover cameras, the past movies are all about people you spot and then turning that to their advantage. Compare that to Ocean’s 8 and the crew is constantly hiding in plain sight. They’re waiters, they’re cooks, they’re assistants, but they’re not overplaying their glamour. We’re already enraptured with this crew, and if part of their heist involved reading the phone book, we’d watch with rapt attention.
The cast here is a knockout with everyone getting a chance to shine. It’s the kind of movie where it will end and you’ll debate with your friends who was the best actress out of the bunch because they were all so good. For me, Hathaway is the MVP as she lampoons celebrity with her character while Paulson is also a scene-stealer as an overworked mom slyly running cons on the side. But there’s not a weak link in the cast, and it’s a group of women you like seeing together so much that it seems cruel a sequel hasn’t been announced yet.
The Ocean’s movies are comfort films for me, and Ocean’s 8 easily joins their ranks. I can easily see myself marathoning these movies (plus Logan Lucky) on a lazy Saturday and just reveling in the heists, comedy, and breezy pacing these films provide. Ocean’s 8 doesn’t really break the mold as much as it remakes it in a new image, and hopefully it will get its own trilogy just like its preceding pictures.