Ocean’s Eight

Year: 2018
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross/Olivia Milch
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham-Carter, Minday Kalong, Sarah Paulson, Rhianna, Awkwafina, Richard Armitage, Elliott Gould, Dakota Fanning, James Corden

This film is the very embodiment of the secret sauce every Hollywood studio has chased since the 1970s – the same, but different. At first glance you might also wonder if it's something of a reaction to the #MeToo era, a studio desperately trying to look diverse and equal in the age of gender and race sensitivity.

Warne Bros had a ready made and proven model in the Ocean's Eleven movies, and it seemed like a no brainer (especially given Oceans Eight's success) to change absolutely nothing apart from the genders of the characters.

That represents an upside and a downside. The upside is that it does exactly what Soderbergh did with the Oceans films. It's a cool, slick crime thriller with intelligent protagonists and comic touches, all of it infused with design, music and a sense of catlike motion that are as svelte and sexy as the movie itself. It sets up a target, shows us a group of smart career criminals figuring out how the sting will work and executes it with effortless finesse. The downside is that if you liked the (good) Ocean's movies, this is the same thing again.

This time the hero is Debbie Ocean Sandra Bullock), kid sister of criminal hero Danny as played by George Clooney in the other films. She emerges from a stretch she went away for thanks to a former boyfriend who set her up to take the fall for a job, and is barely back in the street when she's doing what she does best, scoring bagfuls of expensive cosmetics for free and a paid-for hotel suite thanks to a series of ballsy cons.

But she has an even bigger target in her sights – a staggeringly valuable diamond necklace to be worn by a Hollywood starlet (Anne Hathaway) at the annual Met Gala Ball, on loan from Cartier (yes, there's plenty of product placement here).

She immediately reconnects with Lou (Cat Blanchett in the same role played by Brad Pitt in the other films) – Debbie's best friend, most trusted confidante and partner in crime. They immediately start planning, recruiting an appropriately diverse roster of eclectic talent including Sarah Paulson as the doting suburban mother and stolen goods fence, Mindy Kaling as the jeweller put upon by her family who'll rework the necklace, hacker Nine Ball (Rhianna) to work the security system and more.

That the script by Olivia Milch and director Gary Ross tries to do something different after the successful execution of the job involving the actress who wore the necklance is commendable, but it doesn't detract too much from the very familiar tone, pace and aesthetic. It's nice to see characters not defined by their gender and not having to be the comic reflief, slutty eye candy, etc, which by extension kind of makes their gender fairly redundant.

The movie – if you compare it to what's come before – is too, no matter how much fun, how well put together or how cleverly it pulls off what it's going for.

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