As I wrote in an earlier review, there are almost strictly two kinds of heist movies: those where everything goes right and the thieves walk away with a fortune, and those where everything goes wrong and the thieves wind up dead or in jail. The distinction between these two very different subgenres hinges on one element: whether or not the thieves trust each other. If they do, then their plan goes like clockwork and you cheer them on as they walk away with millions. If they don't, then the audience gets a dose of schadenfreude and supposedly learns a lesson about selfishness.
You only need to read the words "Ocean's 8, starring Sandra Bullock" to know which kind of heist movie this is going to be. And at a time when a renewed focus has been put on female empowerment, we surely wouldn't expect to see a group of lady criminals turning on each other, because where's the sisterhood in that?
In this spinoff of the Ocean's 11 franchise, George Clooney's Danny Ocean has apparently died, shortly before his sister Debbie (Bullock), every bit the con artist he is, walks out of jail after five years. During Debbie's stay inside, she's had a long time to plan the ultimate heist: stealing a diamond necklace worth $150 million, and hiring just the right number of women to help her do it. She's even made time to shoehorn in a little side con or two.
Ocean's 8 proudly wears its femaleness on its sleeve, and I say that as a compliment. Not content to merely be a distaff version of Ocean's 11, the film revels in fashion – the heist is set during the Met Gala, New York's ultra-exclusive haute couture bacchanal – jewelry, celebrity, food, and fabulousness. Bullock gets to speak German, Cate Blanchett gets to use her native Australian dialect, and the supporting players are lively and likable, even if the plot-heavy proceedings prevent their characters from seeing any development or even much individual screen time. The story satisfies, although it feels a bit rushed, especially in the third act.
If you want to have a good time, you've come to the right place. If you want something to challenge your expectations, forget it. Personally, I still long for a heist film that moves beyond the "everything went right, clever us"/"everything went wrong, greedy and/or stupid us" dichotomy. But until then, there's nothing wrong with a movie like Ocean's 8.