Ocean’s 8 (2018) ☆☆☆(3/4): A fun with ladies going for a big heist

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“Ocean’s 8”, which is a female spin-off of Steven Soderbergh’s the Ocean’s trilogy, delights and entertains us with its own charm and class. Yes, this is your typical heist movie just like its male predecessors, but it engages us via its sassy personality generated from its eight wonderful actresses, and we come to enjoy how cheerfully it glides along with them.

At first, the movie establishes its obligatory link to the Ocean’s trilogy. Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), who is a niece of George Clooney’s character in the Ocean’s trilogy, is about to be paroled after spending several years in a prison near New York City, and she promises to authorities supervising her parole that she will not let herself drawn back to crime, but, of course, she is ready to embark on a heist plan right from when she is released from the prison. As told to us later in the story, she carefully elaborated this plan day by day while she was in the prison, and all she needs now is several women who will work with her for this plan.

After doing some shoplifting around a number of boutiques in Manhattan for cheering up herself a bit, Debbie goes to her no-nonsense friend/partner Lou (Cate Blanchett), and then they come to gather five other women for the plan. They are Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), a ditzy fashion designer who has been in a very difficult financial situation due her problem with IRS; Amita (Mindy Kaling), a plucky jewelry expert who has been eager to walk away from her domineering mother’s business; Nine Ball (Rihanna), a confident hacker who surely impresses Lou and Debbie right from their first meeting; Constance (Awkwafina), a spirited pickpocket who is very good as shown from her first scene; and Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a profiteer who has tried to live as your average suburban mom but still cannot resist her criminal impulse when she is told a bit about the plan.

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What they are going to steal is a priceless diamond necklace which is currently owned by Cartier. Because its estimated value is around 150 million dollar, this precious necklace is stored with maximum security in the underground safety vault right below the Cartier store, but Debbie has a nice idea for how to steal it. They are going to make a popular actress named Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) wear the necklace during the upcoming annual fundraising gala held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then they are going to find the right time and the right spot for stealing it without getting caught.

Once Debbie presents the outline of her plan to her criminal colleagues, we watch how they prepare for the plan step by step, and the movie provides small amusing moments as they deal with a few unexpected setbacks on their way. I chuckled as watching how Debbie and Lou make sure that Kluger hires Weil and accordingly becomes their unwitting accomplice, and I also was amused by a humorous moment involved with an extra security measure on the necklace.

When our ladies are finally ready for executing their plan at the Met Gala, the movie wields style and glamor as demanded, and director Gary Ross, who wrote the screenplay with Olivia Milch, did a competent job of showing us how tightly their plan is executed second by second. While there is enough suspense to hold our attention, the mood never feels too serious, and the movie is further buoyed by the undeniable chemistry among its main cast members.

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Watching them having a lot of fun together on the screen, I came to reflect on how some of them have entertained us for many years. While Sandra Bullock, who has always been endearing since I saw her in “Speed” (1994), effortlessly exudes her star quality, Cate Blanchett, who has constantly amazed us as playing various roles ranging from Queen Elizabeth I to Bob Dylan (!), demonstrates well her comic talent which definitely deserves to be seen more, and Helena Bonham Carter, who has been one of the most versatile British actresses since her strong performance in “A Room with a View” (1985), is delightfully offbeat as brandishing her character’s eccentricity. As the last crucial part of the plan, Anne Hathaway, who has been somehow underrated by some people despite her fine performances in “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) and “Rachel Getting Married” (2008) and her recent Oscar win for “Les Misérables” (2012), simply steals the show from the beginning, and she clearly enjoys every second of her scenes in the film.

In case of Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, and Awkwafina, they look relatively less prominent in comparison, but they all have each own moment to shine. While Paulson, who has recently been more prominent thanks to her terrific performance in TV series “American Horror Story” and previously worked along with Blanchett in “Carol” (2015), is dependable as before, Kaling, who was one of many colorful characters in American TV sitcom series “The Office”, is perfectly cast in her role, and Rihanna and Awkwafina are also engaging as showing some potential for their acting career.

Although it lags a bit during its third act, “Ocean’s 8” maintains well its lightweight mood even during that part, and the overall result is as entertaining as “Ocean’s 11” (2001) and its two following sequels. Although it did not surprise me much, I enjoyed watching its talented actresses acting together on the screen, and I also appreciated little feminist touches in the film. It is not exactly fresh, but it is fun enough to be recommendable, and it is certainly nice to see that girls do their job as well as boys.

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