Reel Shorts | Ocean’s 8

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

The family Ocean is back in business as Danny’s sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock) leads her own gang on a nearly impossible heist.

Finally, Debbie Ocean (Bullock) is being released from jail. While she was incarcerated for 5 years, she has had plenty of time to plan a heist that would make her brother’s job pale in comparison. She meets up with her friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) who is busy running her own cons including the watering down of cases of alcohol and assembles her crew for the job of a lifetime.

Ocean’s 8 is written and directed by Gary Ross (Free State of Jones, The Hunger Games, Big) who has had no previous experience in the Oceans universe. Yet Ross delivers well with a script, story, and direction that are Oceans caliber and with the help of producer Steven Soderbergh gives 8 the perfect resonance in the universe. Cameos from the Ocean’s 11 crew also give the movie credibility and tie it securely to its predecessors.

While Ocean’s 8 is tied into the family, it has its own personality. Despite the many similar beats in this movie (Lou is clearly Debbie’s Rusty), the “sisters are doing it”, “girl power” themes of the movie are delightful. The fact that Debbie can do a more successful job with fewer women is not one that is lost on the viewers. However, there is a moment where the crew takes advantage of the MeToo movement that although is slightly humorous on the surface, is actually just a little undermining upon reflection.

Unfortunately, it needs to be said, 8 is not as cool as 11. But then again neither were 12 and 13. In fact, Soderbergh has been having a problem achieving the level of just plain coolness that he developed in Out of Sight and culminated in Ocean’s 11. Even last year’s Logan Lucky was creative and enjoyable, but it was still missing that factor which made the original Ocean so big a hit that it spawned two sequels and a “sister.” Is it the Clooney factor that’s missing? Who knows?

(SPOILER ALERT) The biggest disappointment and possible distraction to the movie is the knowledge that Danny Ocean is dead. From the moment Debbie utters the words of his death in the very first scene, the audience Is shocked and searches for any indication that it may be untrue. Even Debbie is not sure of his death which leads everyone to expect the surprise cameo that never comes.

But for those in the movie, Bullock (Gravity, The Blind Side) is particularly excellent. The charming and lovable actress channels and combines the sweetness of Gracie Hart (Miss Congeniality) and the toughness of Margaret Tate (The Proposal) to create a Debbie Ocean that is smarter, slicker and more calculated than her brother could ever be. Blanchett is cool as ice in her Rusty impression. Rihanna’s Nine Ball is also much better hacker to look at than Cheadle’s Basher. But 8 ups the ante by having numerous paparazzi cameos from Met Gala attendees including Kardashians and Katie Holmes and Serena Williams to name a few. Even some female acting legends make guest appearances.

Rated PG-13 for language, drug use, and some suggestive content, Ocean’s 8 is a great fun that stumbles a bit under the pressure of its family but like the finest of diamonds is better for the pressure.

Grade: B