After ‘Ocean’s 8,’ don’t expect to see an Ocean’s 9 or 10
The 2001 George Clooney/Brad Pitt version of “Ocean’s 11” was basically an excuse to show off good-looking men in good-looking suits. Sure, there was a Vegas heist and all, but that was just the vehicle for audiences to watch a bunch a A-listers hanging out with each other. “Ocean’s 12” and “13” followed quickly upon the success of “Ocean’s 11.”
And now, 11 years after the last Clooney “Ocean’s,” we get an all-female version, “Ocean’s 8.” This gives Hollywood another chance to show off, this time with good-looking women in good-looking outfits all hanging out with each other. And the heist is even more of an afterthought.
The Ocean in “Ocean’s 8” is Debbie Ocean, played by Sandra Bullock. She’s the criminally inclined sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean and much like her older brother at the beginning of “Ocean’s 11,” she finds herself facing a parole board too, after serving over five years in prison.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Ocean. As you know, parole is a privilege.”
“It was a mistake. Uhh … But it happened. And, um, if I were to be released I would, um, just want the simple life. I just want to hold down a job, make some friends, pay my bills.”
Her idea of “paying her bills” involves stealing a $150 million necklace right off the neck of a huge movie star at the Met Gala in Manhattan. She corrals a slew of con artists played by the likes of Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and others to help her pull off the improbable heist. Anne Hathaway plays the jewelry theft victim.
The actresses are all fine in their roles, though none of the them is asked to do too much. The plot itself is so full of holes that you can insert whatever swiss cheese joke you’d like here. But the pacing is swift enough that the actual heist does make for an exciting 20 minutes or so of high-stakes tension.
What’s a bit disappointing is that the script does very little to take advantage of the unique fact this is an operation done almost entirely by women. It may be the nature of heists themselves, but every part could easily have been played by a man.
Sandra Bullock/Debbie Ocean does get in one good feminist line. She complains to her cohorts about how common it is for women to be ignored, so for once they’re going to take advantage of that. During the heist “we want to be ignored,” she says. But that’s about it for female solidarity.
Hollywood knows moviegoers are not going to line up to see “Ocean’s 8” for the quality of its heist or for its feminist credentials. What fans want to see are celebrity actresses dressing up and acting like celebrities, and that is what this movie delivers. But personally, I don’t expect to see an “Ocean’s 9” or “10” either.
For another, better heist movie opening June 8, I recommend “American Animals,” a SIFF film now getting a theatrical release. It’s based on a real-life heist attempt by a bunch of knuckle-headed college kids on an Indiana campus. They appear to have been too influenced by Hollywood movies to think straight.