Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Gary Ross, Olivia Milch, George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling, Richard Armitage, James Corden
Ocean's 8 has proven that less is more in the most literal of ways.
Ocean's 8, the all-female continuation of the previously male-led Ocean's franchise (2001-2007), is a sublimely slick and tidy modern heist thriller, and one which can barely contain its wealth of talent. It's a quiet but determined film, confident without making a big thing about it and, much like its characters, is hugely ambitious.
While it makes several direct links to its 3 predecessors (as well as a few creative nods) which securely tie it to the franchise, it obviously also wants to be disparate. Ocean's 8 brings with it its very own style, leaving behind the sneaky, shadowy feel of the earlier films, dropping the shaky cam techniques and fly-on-the-wall viewpoints. Instead, Ocean's 8 is much more open and bright, working in the daylight rather the dark, and bringing a sense of glamour and elegance to the series. While 'The Ocean's Trilogy' is a trio of good films, Ocean's 8 feels far more accessible than its 3 older brothers, being a heist film for all audiences, rather than a heist film for 'heist film fans'.
In the same way that all great heists must run like clock-work, Ocean's 8 is perfectly paced and executed. From its first scene to its last, its steady momentum constantly walks a thin line, never slowing and only quickening when it feels the need to. It never stagnates or lingers too long on any one aspect, nor does it rush around and confuse the viewer - it simply moves from one point to another in a meticulous and purposeful fashion, mimicking the cool, calm collectedness of its characters. It is a film which is always in complete control, and you'll feel in very safe hands right the way through.
The heist itself is similarly well-designed - and again makes steps to distance itself from the themes of 11, 12 and 13. This time, Danny Ocean's little sister, Debbie (Bullock), assembles a 8-strong crew to steal a $150 million diamond necklace from the neck of Daphne Kluger (Hathaway) at the prestigious Met Gala in New York. It's an elaborate and interesting plan, and brings the franchise right up to the modern day, employing some state of the art technology and strategies. It's not as dynamic as some other films within the heist sub-genre, but at the same time it doesn't over-saturate the film with visual gimmicks, keeping it simple and easy to follow.
The brilliant performances in this film are too numerous to list; the film has not one weak link amongst its cast, but some stand-outs must be mentioned. Sandra Bullock was born to lead this film as Debbie Ocean, being exquisitely devious throughout the film and effortlessly graceful while she does so, while Cate Blanchett brings a more rugged and edgy feel to her motorcycle riding Lou. Helena Bonham Carter is practically unrecognisable as the skittish Irish designer, Rose Weil, an endlessly watchable and hilarious character. James Corden also submits a very enjoyable performance, one which is humorous but far more reserved than you might expect, and doesn't distract from the rest of the film. Everyone in this film is obviously enjoying every single moment. Each of 'the 8' possess a unique personality and identity, each of which is efficiently explored while the chemistry established between all of them subverts the need for any lazy or awkward exposition.
Overall, Ocean's 8 is a welcoming film, and one which takes having fun very seriously. It runs like a well-oiled machine, expertly taking care of one task before moving swiftly onto the next. It doesn't confuse the viewer, nor does it insult their intelligence, producing an intricate but coherent diamond heist.
In one line: Ocean's 8 is a fantastically efficient continuation of one of the leading heist-film franchises, with a disarming confidence and likability which makes this film a very pleasant and exciting watch.