Ocean’s Eight (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Ocean’s Eight</strong> (2018)

(On Cable TV, January 2019) Like many, I’m not overly happy with the recent tradition of relaunching franchises with gender-flipped casts—it smacks of opportunism, and a cheap way to revive franchises that have otherwise run their courses. But even grouchy me had a hard time resisting the charm of Ocean’s Eight, which resurrects the modern Ocean’s comedic heist franchise with a mostly female cast. Headlined by Anne Hathaway (going back to a sympathetic character after a too-long detour playing out-of-persona unlikable characters), the ensemble cast tears into the usual heist plot mechanics with gusto, with everybody getting a choice moment or two. Plot-wise, this isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, although it should be noted that rather than head for banks or casinos like their male colleagues, the women of Ocean’s Eight head for jewelry at a high-end fashion event … because why not. This enjoyable follow-up has a snappy rhythm thanks to director Gary Ross, and even the post-heist material doesn’t drag on too much despite wallowing in useless complications. (But it wouldn’t be a heist movie if they went for a simple approach.) The ensemble cast is at the top of their game, what with Sandra Bullock going head-to-head with Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham-Carter throwing in a bawdy French dialogue wordplay that is not adequately translated in the subtitles, as well as younger actresses such as Mindy Kaling, Rihanna and Awkwafina having good moments. It’s not meant to be profound or sophisticated beyond surface appearance, but Ocean’s Eight is a fun heist movie, and I quite liked it.

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