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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 18, 2018

Ocean’s 8 Movie Review: Has The Same Gist As Other Heist Movies, Only This Time, The Con Artists Are Women

THE FIRST “Ocean’s 11”, a heist film, was made in 1960 starring the famous Rat Pack led by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. This was remade in 2001 as “Ocean’s Eleven” starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt. It was a hit so there was a sequel, “Ocean’s Twelve” in 2004, and another one in 2007, “Ocean’s Thirteen”.

Now comes “Ocean’s 8” and the germ of the story is really the same as the other heist films with con men aiming to pull intricate con job. The difference is this one has a female cast led by Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, the sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney.) The first Ocean movies were directed by Steven Soderbergh, who is now producer for “Ocean’s 8”, which is directed by Gary Ross (“Hunger Games”).

Just like “Ocean’s Eleven” which started with George Clooney being released from jail, this one starts with Debbie being released after five years behind bars. She then goes to visit her brother’s crypt and she says: “You better be in there.” This is a hint that he may not really be dead and if “Ocean’s 8” becomes a blockbuster, we won’t be surprised if they’d join forces later on in another movie.

Elliott Gould as Reuben from “Ocean’s Eleven” pops up in a cameo role and tells Debbie that Danny was aware that she’s been planning a new heist and discourages her to do it as she just might end up back in prison. The film ends with Debbie returning to the crypt, making a martini for herself and telling Danny: “You would have loved it.”

And what is the heist she planned? It’s stealing a fabulous six-pound diamond necklace called the Toussaint, worth $150 million, which is locked up in an underground Cartier vault. They will perform the heist during New York City’s biggest event of the year, the Met Gala, and it will be worn by the Gala Chair herself, Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway.)

Sandra’s main partner in the heist is Cate Blanchett as Lou, Rihanna as an internet hacker named Nine Ball, Sarah Paulson as a harassed mom and expert fence named Tammy, Mindy Kaling as a jewelry expert called Amita and Awkwafina as a sleek pickpocket and con artist called Constance. As you can see, the cast includes an African-American and two Asians.

They also get the services of an over the hill fashion designer, Helena Bonham Carter as Rose Weil, to help convince Anne Hathaway to wear the Toussaint. If you’d count them, that’s a total of only 7 women. The 8th one is a surprise and will be revealed later, along with another twist in the movie which involves a secret male partner who’s a guest from past Ocean films and, unknown to us, performs a much bigger heist in the movie.

As a diversion, the movie is pleasant enough entertainment. There are plenty of guest stars like Katie Holmes, Kim Kardashian, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, tennis star Serena Williams, fashion designers Zac Posen and Waris Ahluwalia, Marlo Thomas, Elizabeth Ashley, Dana Ivey and Dakota Fanning as a celebrity planted to make Anne Hathaway jealous in getting Helena as her designer.

There’s another twist in that it turns out that Sandra is planning the heist not only to steal the diamonds but also to take revenge on a duplicitous art gallery owner who was the reason why she went into prison five years ago. Since Sandra is the mastermind, she gets the biggest screen exposure in the movie. It’s amusing to watch her leave jail for a supposedly more “simple life”.

She leaves the prison with only $45 in her pocket then immediately shows how such a smooth operator she is by shoplifting at Bergdorf and getting a room at the plush Plaza Hotel for free. She also does her best to distract security men at the Gala with her pretending to be a German and tries speaking like one.

The others are mere supporting players including Cate Blanchett as a cool biker, Sarah Paulson as the wife with a house full of stolen good and Helena Bonham Carter mugging with her Irish accent and a very flamboyant getup. It’s actually Anne Hathaway who gets to steal many scenes because of her vainglorious diva antics. Also giving good support are James Corden as an insurance investigator whose subplot unfortunately ends nowhere and Richard Armitage as the man with whom Sandra has a big ax to grind.

Just like other heist flicks, the fun comes mainly from watching the intricate plan come together successfully. Things actually seem to work out a bit too easily and conveniently for the team to pull it off. “Ocean’s 8” is about the glitz and glamor of setting up and executing the heist, this time in a flashy affair like the MET Gala that provides plenty of gloss and sparkle for the viewers. The movie ends with the robbers getting away with it and embarking on their next projects richer than ever. We’re almost sure that they will get together again in the not so distant future.