All-woman heist caper ‘Ocean’s 8’ will steal your heart

James Preston Poole

A cast entirely made up of A-list actresses, a heist and a dash of humor — what’s not to love?

“Ocean’s 8,” the latest installment of the “Ocean’s” franchise, may appear to be nothing more than a remake of 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” on the surface, simply starring all women. But don’t be fooled; this is a fully fledged new entry into the series that more than earns its place amongst the others.

The film initially follows a classic setup similar to the original. Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the sister of now-deceased criminal Danny Ocean (George Clooney), gets out of prison on parole and immediately calls up her best friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) to plan a score. The score this time, though, is no bank heist: it’s robbing a valuable set of diamonds off the neck of actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway).

Bullock more than matches Clooney with a cool, commanding presence, offset by the roguish charm Blanchett brings to the table. Together, they lead an outstanding cast of characters that includes neurotic soccer mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson), gifted jewelry maker Amita (Mindy Kailing), snarky hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), brash pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina) and eccentric fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter).

These women are an absolute joy to watch, functioning as a cohesive unit of unique individuals and rivaling the crews in the other films. There’s not a soul to dislike in this bunch, but it’s Hathaway’s character who really steals the show. As the vapid mark the group is pursuing, she gets the biggest laughs and is a far more quirky character than we’re used to seeing her play.

The cast is the film’s ace in the hole, something director Gary Ross (“The Hunger Games”) understands very well. Despite lacking the frenetic style of the previous films, “Ocean’s 8” still brings a sense of slick style while giving the audience chances to breathe. It is possible that the pace may be too slow for some, as it does take a while to get going, but despite this slower tempo, the plot’s buildup is never boring.

A huge part of this is owed to the writing. Never relying on one-liners, the screenplay gives everyone in the core group a distinct part to play while keeping the plot moving along. The heist itself is extremely compelling, a dynamite set-piece that’s ingenious in just how low-key it is. The film makes a diamond necklace getting passed around while the gang evade authorities more compelling than it has any right to be.

“Ocean’s 8” does stumble a bit in its third act. The addition of an insurance fraud investigator played by James Corden feels extraneous, mostly because Corden simply cannot keep up with the other performers. In spite of this small flaw, the film throws a series of exciting twists and turns at the audience that ends everything on a great note.

There’s a lot to love in “Ocean’s 8.” So much that it couldn’t all in one review. If this is a one-off in the franchise, then it’s perfectly satisfying on its own, but if there is to be a sequel, consider me there.

“Ocean’s 8”

Runtime: 110 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Score: 4/5