Sandra Bullock. Cate Blanchett. Sarah Paulson. Helena Bonham Carter. Any one of those four names is usually enough to get me in the to cinema. Now, those four together? With a whole further host of amazing actresses to boot? Promising to bring some of the high jinks heist fun of the 2000s Ocean’s trilogy but with a more female centric spin? I’m bloody in guys. I’m bloody in.
Ocean’s 8 throws us back in to the action with the release from prison of Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), Danny’s (George Clooney) younger sister. After five long years in the penitentiary, Debbie reunites with her former partner in crime Lou (Cate Blanchett) to formulate a monster plan to remove $150 million dollars worth of jewels from the neck of actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the iconic Met Gala. In true Oceans fashion, it takes an army, and the pair recruit jewellery maker Amita (Mindy Kaling), profiteer Tammy (Sarah Paulson), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna) and fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter) to help them pull off the diamond snatch of the century.
Let me be level headed for a hot second first. If you’re looking for a heist movie that is going to really blow your mind on a clever plotting, ‘how did they do that’ kind of scale, then Ocean’s 8 probably won’t provide you with everything that you want. It’s a film that, whilst tying up all of its loose ends in a satisfying way, doesn’t really take too many risks and directions away from the heist and puzzle solving type format that we have seen before in countless pictures. Solid in terms of its twists and reveals, but not particularly stand out. The thing is, though, I don’t give a single damn because I. Flipping. Loved. It.
It’s kind of shocking to think about it, but we are still in a place, eighteen years in to the 21st century, where the idea of a predominantly female cast in a big blockbuster release is still provocative and novel. Ocean’s 8 gives me the same kind of ‘WOMEN FUCK YEAH” feels as films like Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman and Atomic Blonde have over the past few years, and I am never going to tire of those feels. The film is packed to the brim with style, chemistry, humour and fun, way more than enough to excuse the slightly formulaic nature of the heist intricacies.
There’s no doubting that the joy of Ocean’s 8 is in its awesome cast. As Debbie Ocean, Sandra Bullock is the cool, calm and collected figure head of the crew, oozing style and smarts. Cate Blanchett as the stylish Lou exudes enough swagger and mystique to power a god damn space ship, where do I sign up for the dedicated origin story spin off? As the two central players in the cast, Bullock and Blanchett look and feel as though they are in the prime of their lives. They share a chemistry filled, deliberately I’m sure, with juicy subtext and I couldn’t be more here for it if I tried.
The rest of the gang are filled out by characters and performances that, if not quite as captivating, are still absolutely top notch and fun. Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter and Awkwafina all get their individual chances to shine, and all take those opportunities with both hands. It’s hard to stand out in a film so filled with huge personalities, but never for a single second did there feel like a power struggle on screen. As too cool for school hacker Nine Ball, Rihanna has fully redeemed herself in my heart after the overall shit show that was Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets.
Shout out to Anne Hathaway for giving herself up to the silliness and parodic nature of her character Daphne Kluger, on the surface an amalgamation of the dozens of mega famous air heads that we see every day on our screens and in our media. Hathaway, through no fault of her own I feel, has become something of a ‘trendy’ punchbag in pop culture circles over the years, and it’s fun to see her sending up vapid celebrity to be rewarded with her own interesting twist in the final third.
Overall, if you can’t already tell, Ocean’s 8 was a real joy for me. Call me simple, call me biased, call me sexist even, but there is just something about seeing a bunch of my favourite female performers telling a story that involves smarts and skills and secrets that makes me so, so happy. It’s the kind of film where you can tell the cast had as much fun making it as you do watching it, and that sort of synergy is infectious to me. I can’t wait to see it again. In the mean time, I’ll be off in a very specific corner of the internet looking at pictures of Cate Blanchett wearing various tailored suits.