These damsels’ only distress is getting caught.
Remakes, prequels, and sequels frequently degrade what initially made originals great. They tend to overdo homages or tread too heavily on the same trope all while attempting to disguise a hackneyed approach with new casts and locations.
With subtle nods to Debbie Ocean’s (Sandra Bullock) relationship to brother Danny Ocean (George Clooney), and a framed picture of him on a bureau, the film is able to build from a foundation, creating something that stands very well on its own.
Like the Ocean’s trilogy, Ocean’s 8 is a clever heist film yet separates itself with an almost entirely female cast.
As the title suggests, there are eight leads, all superbly cast and demolish any notion that a woman’s place in films is solely to be a token, on a man’s arm or seeking to be there.
Audiences are first introduced to Debbie Ocean (Bullock) seeking parole after being duped into a bad deal by ex Claude Becker (Richard Armitage). When granted freedom with the promise of living a “simple life”, Ocean reconnects with Lou (Cate Blanchett), her motorcycle-riding, nightclub-owning, fellow-hustling friend.
Together they plan to steal a diamond necklace — the Toussaint by Cartier — not from a safe, but from someone’s neck. In plain sight. At the Met Gala. In front of people like Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum, and Serena Williams.
It’s a theft that requires a certain set of skills and the people who have them.
The job needs Amita’s (Mindy Kaling) appraisal and ability to de- and reconstruct jewelry; It needs Tammy’s (Sarah Paulson) ability to maintain a cookie-cutter appearance as she swipes things out from under people’s noses — or out from the back of vans carrying large shipments.
All the actors’ performances are exceptional. The roles are rich and dynamic and could tempt those less-experienced to overact, yet nothing was. The characters are different and complementary. Together they have a dry-wit and subtle class that speaks to the film itself and the experience of viewing it.
Besides Claude Becker (Armitage), Debbie Ocean’s conniving ex, there isn’t exactly a villain — but there is Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway): an actress, socialite and the woman who wears the Toussaint during the gala.
Klugar is deliciously awful in a way that can only be played by someone who isn’t. All the actors play their roles well, though there are a few who stand out. Hathaway is one of them, Bullock knocks it out of the park, but Awkwafina was the most on point with her comedic timing, versatility and quick-witted comments.
The people in this film are wonderful to see in action, though they’re only the surface. They execute the vision of directors and writers and, though they’re certainly important, they’re are only a piece of all that makes a movie great.
This film could not have existed the way it did without its crew, its writers and directors. More specifically, this movie couldn’t have existed without a female writer, Olivia Milch, executive producer Diana Alvarez, and producer Susan Ekins.
It couldn’t have existed for the same reason any structure — social or tangible — won’t allow for versatile and nuanced experiences of women without women making decisions as to how they can realistically be shown and held.
This movie was entertaining, funny and charming. It’s not a must-see-in-theaters, but buying a ticket could show Hollywood that the world appreciates films with strong, complex women and that we need to create more spaces and movies that hold them.