I know how folks are gonna look at this movie: the girl version of an established male franchise. And you know what? I don’t care. Because I want a girl heist movie. I wanna see an ensemble cast of women come together and pull off a crazy, off-the-wall stunt with the power of cleverness and quick thinking.
That’s exactly what you get with Oceans 8. An impossible heist. A group of cool, glamorous women. And . . . there’s not much substance beyond that.
That’s not to say there aren’t some gems worth stealing in this film. What stood out to me the most can be summed up by this quote from Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock): “A ‘him’ gets noticed, a ‘her’ gets ignored. For once, we want to be ignored.
The movie plays on this concept, and when it works, it works. Instead of hitting up a casino like her brother, Danny (the lead protagonist in the previous Ocean’s movies, also known as George Clooney), Debbie hits the Met Gala and has a single target in mind: an extremely expensive piece of jewelry. It seems like an odd choice, but the value of the necklace will mean a pretty hefty sum of money for each of the ladies. That, and when you think of intricate thievery, the Met Gala isn’t high on most people’s radars.
Debbie and her crew are meticulous with every detail, right down to recruiting a designer to make a dress for the big-name Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) so they can be in direct contact with the mark. The stylist convinces Kluger that she absolutely, positively has to wear this necklace—she’s got the neck for it, you know. Kluger is so predictably vain that she agrees. It’s an interesting spin on the heist formula as the starlet and the jewelry company bring the necklace to the exact place where our crew is planning on stealing it.
Each woman has a part to play, and as Debbie points out, no one notices them. That “crazed” stylist who’s rambling about fashion? That pissed-off white woman complaining to security? Those black and brown women working service jobs? They all go unnoticed. Kluger waltzes into the Met Gala with a necklace so prized that it had been locked in a safe. There’s so much security with it . . . yet no one thought to bat an eye at the Asian waitress lingering around the dinner table for a bit too long.
And why would they? They’re women.
Let me just say that the opening to the movie is entertaining as hell. Watching Debbie Ocean reenter society is pretty hilarious, as she quickly proves that she’s still got that urge to steal—and she’s good at it. Everything else after that (with the exception of a few laughs and, of course, the big heist) is kinda . . . meh.
Our cast feel more like caricatures rather than actual fleshed-out characters we want to root for. When I walked out of the movie, I couldn’t remember anyone’s names; I only remembered the actors playing them. There’s no moment in the movie that really makes any them feel like they stand out, which is a shame, because I know these women can act. They all just feel like they’re kinda . . . there? They don’t do an awful job, but they’re not very engaging, either.
In a movie where you have to get on board with scam artists, those scam artists have to be charismatic enough for you to say, “Yes. Steal millions of dollars because you’re bored on a Tuesday.” Movies like this have to make you want to cheer for the criminals, otherwise you don’t give a flip if they get caught, nor do you care if they succeed. More importantly, there has to be something at stake, and I didn’t get that vibe at all. Sure, we know that if they get caught they’ll go to prison, but no one seemed too worry about that—least of all, Debbie, which is odd, ’cause you’ve been to prison before, girl. You really wanna go back?
Also, remember what I said about the whole “women aren’t noticed” angle? The times it doesn’t work believably are glaringly obvious. I’d much rather our crew go up against competent folks they really have to stretch their brain muscles for, but some of their main sources of conflict are really, really dumb. Take Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), for example. He’s Debbie’s ex-boyfriend. He’s also the one who got her sent to prison. So you’d think that when she shows up to confront him—with a shiv, no less—he’d be a bit, well, cautious. But nope. He just goes about his daily musings as if a known criminal ain’t out there ready to sink her teeth into some sweet, sweet vengeance.
Um. Excuse me, sir? Your ex-girlfriend is a criminal mastermind. At the very least show a bit of vigilance while walking through the Met Gala. Especially since you used to do jobs with her. You know how she is. Use your flippin’ head, my dude.
Next, I have a few words about how security guards are portrayed in these movie. Look, I don’t care how disgruntled a woman is—if you’re working security at a place that just lost something worth millions, you’re going to push her out the way. You just are. Y’all are letting these women get away with too much. “It’s the women’s bathroom, you can’t go in there,” someone says to the male security guard. Um . . . no, ma’am. Losing sight of that necklace will cost me my job, I’m going in, okay?
But the worst part about this movie is that there’s no real bond with our characters. They don’t really feel like a team. There are a couple of attempts at establishing some kind of relationship outside of the heist, but those scenes don’t flow with the rest of the movie at all. One minute, they’re trying to find the blind spots in the building. The next? One of them is getting a crash course on how Tinder works. Then it’s back to heist stuff. With the exception of Lou (Cate Blanchett) sharing a couple of scenes with Debbie, there’s no real chemistry among anyone in the group.
To be honest, I was left wondering why in the hell they would agree to follow Debbie’s insane plan to begin with. Her old cohort? Maybe they’d agree, but I feel like it would take a bit more convincing, especially for the former colleagues who’d moved on. One had even had a family, and I don’t know about you, but I’d need a damn good reason to risk jail time if I had kids to feed.
It’s not exactly the girl-heist movie I wanted, though it’s not like I had a bad time. I wish I could give a more glowing review for this one, but as it stands I’d say to save your movie ticket money on something else.