Director Steven Soderbergh’s classy heist series began with a remake of the 1960 rat pack caper Ocean’s Eleven but soon spiralled into its own franchise. Assembling a whopping A-list cast and prioritising stylish aesthetics, the films – flaws notwithstanding – remain a fine example of top Hollywood escapism.
In the years since many have wondered whether an Ocean’s Fourteen might have been on the cards, however in Ocean’s 8, the franchise spins off on a new course, as an octave of leading ladies take centre stage.
Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) – sister of Danny Ocean (played in the Ocean’s trilogy by George Clooney) – is released on parole but contrary to going straight, she meets up with sidekick Lou (Cate Blanchett) and puts in motion determined plans to assemble a crack team to pull off a high stakes heist at New York’s glamorous Met Gala.
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Some critics have been a little lukewarm on this female led sequel/spin-off/reboot (delete as applicable, though all are valid), so much so that even the cast has spoken out and suggested the film reviewing industry is unfairly biased against films of this ilk, due to being comprised of mostly white men. But side stepping all the headlines and talks of gender swap remakes (as they are calling such films), Ocean’s 8 is cracking fun.
Doing what Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters failed to do, this film allows the talented cast to run riot and create their own take on the franchise, instead of being anchored down by the past. Links are established (largely by Debbie’s relation to Danny) but largely this is a film dominated by its brilliant cast’s individuality. Yes the script goes over some familiar heist genre territory and the ending is a tad too convenient to be tangible but through it all the cast keep this elegant, slick and cool thriller exciting.
Sandra Bullock distinguishes her character as more than just “Danny’s sister” and via her far too often overlooked comic ability and determination; she leads the film with confidence and swagger. The charming Cate Blanchett as Debbie’s partner in crime Lou joins in the fun, while Anne Hathaway clearly loves glamming it up as celebrity diva Daphne Kluger.
Meanwhile they are joined by Mindy Kaling, who is a joyful addition to this pool of charisma as jewel maker Amita, while Sarah Paulson plays things much straighter than her cohorts but still has a good time as the prepared family woman Tammy and Awkwafina is a hoot as quick talking Constance, Rihanna is impressive as defiant hacker Nine Ball and Helena Bonham Carter is a blast as eccentric fashion designer Rose Weil.
Ocean’s 8 is lots of fun and its biggest asset is a terrific cast, who are allowed to run wild with their jewel pinching operation and the results are delightfully engaging. So much so, that I would be very pleased to see an Ocean’s 9 sometime in the future.
Ocean’s 8 (12a)
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter
Release Date: Out Now
Oceans 8, 21st July 2018, 22:36 PM