Roberta’s Review of Ocean’s Eight

This kind of convoluted shit is why I gave up on heists.

Ocean’s Eight is a heist movie and one of those remake/sequel/reboots of movies people like but with women. I actually liked it, despite the flashbacks.

This review is going to have spoilers in it for Ocean’s Eight, which only came out a few years ago, but really if you’ve seen one heist movie you’ve seen them all, so it’s probably not a big deal if you know how it all turns out.

Sandra Bullock is playing George Clooney’s sister, who has recently been released from prison after committing various acts of fraud and con artistry while looking fabulous. Upon being released, she immediately begins committing and planning more acts of fraud and con artistry while continuing to look fabulous, and enlists Cate Blanchett and several other celebrities to help her out in her plan to steal a giant ugly necklace from Anne Hathaway at the MET Gala.

Say what you will about these all-female remakes, but I honestly quite like them. Sure, it’s an attempt to make a “woke” movie without actually having to write an original idea, but this and the Ghostbusters remake and a few other movies that came out around the same time are fun even if they’re designed to capitalize on women’s desires for portrayals of female friendship. No, something like Ocean’s Eight isn’t going to save the world from misogyny, but if capitalism is going to consume us all, we may as well get some ladies out of it. I think that this movie works really well and the actors all have really good chemistry with each other. Sure, most of them aren’t super well-developed characters outside of Sandra Bullock, but nobody expects that from a heist movie. The point is that the characters all fit into archetypes that are necessary for the heist to work and in the end it goes off without a hitch and everyone makes millions of dollars. This movie delivers on that.

And honestly it’s kind of nice to see representation of women who like crime as a woman who likes crime. My brothers get all the play and attention from everyone, but I’m here too, just casually committing various crimes, though I admit not as fabulously as Sandra Bullock, et al. That’s mostly because I’m not tall enough to pull off the ball gowns, though. Also I don’t do heists. My sisters would fit right in on Sandra Bullock’s team, though.

Most of a heist movie is about the complexities of planning the heist, and that takes up a good half of Ocean’s Eight too, as Sandra Bullock goes around collecting her crew including Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson and Mindy Kaling, then gets everything set up in place for the heist itself, involving 3D printing a fake necklace, hacking the MET’s security, framing her douchey ex-boyfriend, secretly plotting to steal the crown jewels, and so on. The thing about heist movies that’s fun is that like I said, you already know it’s going to work out, and you enjoy watching the planning happen because you know the final half-hour is going to be everything going off without a hitch and that’s just really satisfying. It’s also why I don’t like real heists, because it’s a lot of planning and every additional step of planning is another step in which something can go wrong, and that can throw off the whole plan, especially if you have a lot of other people working with you. For people who prefer to work alone, it’s definitely better to focus on smaller time thefts—sure, Sandra Bullock et al made hundreds of millions of dollars, but it also took them weeks to plan and a lot of headache to execute, whereas that’s less true if you’re doing something less intense.

I’m not a huge fan of the last twenty minutes of the movie, where James Corden shows up after the heist as an insurance investigator to help them frame the ex-boyfriend. The point of the movie is the heist and we already know they’ve gotten away with it at that point, so this part feels a bit drawn out and like it didn’t really need to be there, and unnecessarily shifts the focus onto a male character in a movie otherwise dedicated to its female-only cast.

At the very end of the movie it’s revealed that Anne Hathaway was in on it too, and all the characters become friends and also millionaires, so it works out for everyone. I quite like that twist, but I have to say that my actual favourite part of the movie is when, just after they’ve gotten the diamonds out of the MET, all the characters change into fancy elaborate dresses so they don’t look out of place wearing millions of dollars of diamond jewellery, which fair enough, but then Cate Blanchett, who was not in the MET at all and escaped on a motorcycle where nobody could see her, also puts on a sequined pantsuit just so she can also look fabulous. I just really support her doing that, and honestly kind of wish I could be her.

I think there could have been slightly less heterosexuality in this, but what else is new? Even if there was no gayness, the relationships between the women are all really well done and fun to watch, and of course the various actors really knock it totally out of the park. There was some criticism of this when it came out mostly from people who didn’t like it because it wasn’t a dick party, but those criticisms aren’t valid and it was very interesting to see some of the actors shoot back at them only to have the reviewer community get up in arms at the bare suggestion that there might be misogyny in it. Like, if you’re offended that someone has suggested that misogyny exists, I have bad news for you in terms of your relationship with women.

Overall, Ocean’s Eight is a solid but not world-changing heist movie that is better than other heist movies because it has hot female actors in stunning ball gowns and shit. George Clooney could never, and just for that this movie is the best installment in the franchise as far as I’m concerned.

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