June 20, 2024

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Geek Review: Ocean’s 8

Sandra Bullock leads an all-female team of thieves on an elaborate robbery in this spin-off to the Ocean's 11 series.

I’ve only ever seen the first of the three recent Ocean’s 11 movies, but that one did have a strong sense of style, a clever heist, and a great cast and director.

Well, Steven Soderbergh didn’t direct this one, where the heist is planned out and performed by an all-female team led by Sandra Bullock, but he did produce it.  So, how much does that count for?

Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the sister to George Clooney’s Danny Ocean.  Danny is supposedly dead (even Debbie expresses some doubt at one point on that one but mostly that’s the story everyone believes).  She’s out on parole after a five year jail stint and, like her brother in Ocean’s 11, immediately goes back to her old ways with a long gestating theft planned for the annual Met Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  To do that, she needs a team of eight pros, and goes first to her old partner Lou (Cate Blanchett in what is basically the Brad Pitt role to Bullock’s Clooney).  After that, she gets a deeply indebted fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter), a jewelry designer (Mindy Kaling), a hacker (Rihanna), a pickpocket (Awkwafina), and a fence (Sarah Paulson) to join the caper to steal a very valuable necklace from one attendee.    As it is, the eighth member of the group is an unwilling one who doesn’t even know she’s in:  famous actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway).

Heist movies like this aren’t necessarily known for their suspense.  The audience is fully aware that the criminals are almost certainly getting away with the crime, so it’s all a matter of how.  Now, the first Ocean’s 11 had a style and a sense of banter that elevated the basic heist premise up a bit, but writer/director Gary Ross just can’t quite get there.  The banter isn’t as good, and the camera work isn’t up to par with Soderbergh’s.  Heck, I put Soderbiergh’s return from his “retirement,” Logan Lucky, on my Top Ten List for 2017.  I wish Soderbergh had directed this one.  It was fine, and fans of heist films will enjoy it (Ryan is and he did), but I would rate it as a fine diversion and little more.  8 out of 10 surprise appearances.