The 2001 “Ocean’s Eleven,” Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the 1960 Rat Pack crime caper, was one of the best crime capers I’ve ever seen. Then its sequel “Twelve” had some memorable moments like Julia Roberts as Tess playing Julia Roberts. And finally, its next sequel “Thirteen” was not that special. The original is almost always the best, as far as I’m concerned.
Now, we have “Ocean’s 8,” which introduces us to the late Danny Ocean’s sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock), who is released from prison, and introduces herself with a brilliant sequence of how she steals cosmetics and a hotel room. She pretends to try to return them without a receipt, and she pretends to be a woman who missed her flight. Guess it runs in the family, don’t it?
She decides to pull off a heist at the Met Gala-stealing the jewels off of celebrity Daphne Kruger (Anne Hathaway); and enlists the help of her friend Lou (Cate Blanchett), a hacker named Nine Ball (Rihanna), a jeweler named Amita (Mindy Kaling), a former thief-turned suburban mom named Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a pick pocket named Constance (Awkwafina), and a struggling designer named Rose (Helena Bonham Carter).
The cast also includes Richard Armitage as Debbie’s ex-lover who sent her and her family to prison, and James Corden as an insurance investigator, who examines the case of the missing diamonds. And we also get some cameos from some of the original “Ocean’s Eleven trilogy like Elliott Gould as Reuben and Shaobo Qin as the Amazing Yen.
The cast in “Ocean’s 8” is top notch, thanks to charms of Bullock, Blanchett, and Hathaway. The heist is fun, and there are surprises (I mean what would an “Ocean’s” movie be without surprises?). And I admire the direction Gary Ross and producer Steven Soderbergh take in making the robbery pay off. Those are the bright spots of the movie.
But the problem with the movie is it seems to care more about the heist and surprises than it does on the character development. The hackers and thieves just do their job, and the mom goes undercover. Once we meet the women, the movie just slides on and assumes the plot will take control. I ended up losing my interests in them.
The original movie was more than just the heist; it offered a snag involving Danny trying to win Tess back, and its sense of humor was wise. I can handle female versions, but only if they’re given ambition and determination. As well-meaning as this spin-off is, it doesn’t top the original.