It’s fair to say that the announcement of Ocean’s 8 was met with mixed opinions. After the flop that was the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters, the prospect of a similar arrangement to follow-up the wildly successful Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13 had some rolling their eyes, while others questioned why it had taken so long.
It’s a gamble that seems to have paid off though, as Ocean’s 8 has everything you could ask from an Ocean’s film – glitz, glamour, silky basslines, a wise-cracking team and a whopping great diamond necklace to be stolen.
The premise, therefore, is very similar to that in the previous Ocean’s films and the heist itself is both well thought out and fairly believable – aside from a couple of overly convenient 007-esque gadgets. Likewise, the trademark “here’s-what-you-missed” reveal is a satisfying payoff; on par with that of any of its predecessors.
Without doubt though, Ocean’s 8’s key strength is its cast.
Anne Hathaway stands out as a particular highlight, owning most of the films funniest moments as self-indulgent, air-headed celebrity, Daphne Kulgar. Richard Armitage also makes a perfectly agreeable appearance as cowardly art dealer, Claude Becker.
I felt surprisingly under-whelmed by Cate Blanchett’s sidekick, Lou, who seems to be on-hand only to pose and recruit new members of Ocean’s team. Said team members were so fun though, boasting an impressive line-up that includes Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and Helena Bonham Carter, that there was plenty of personality to be found elsewhere.
Sandra Bullock, however, is the heart and soul of the film. It occurred to me that the premise of Danny Ocean’s sister, Debby Ocean, forming a museum-robbing team of her own might feel like a tenuous angle with which to pen a spin-off. But from the word “go”, Bullock is just as engaging and enjoyable to watch as George Clooney before her; acknowledging the connection to her brother just long enough to establish herself in the Ocean’s universe before steaming ahead to definitively make her mark on the series.
This is very much the case throughout the film. With enough references to the original cast and a few well-judged cameos to remind you of its heritage, Ocean’s 8 pays its dues to its predecessors but never feels overshadowed.
My one real gripe is that I was missing any real sense of tension. Whenever Debby’s carefully laid plan reaches any kind of hiccup, it’s overcome so quickly that I never felt any genuine concern that the heist may be in danger of failing.
Given how much else there is to enjoy in this film though, it’s a gripe that I’m happy to set aside while I cross my fingers for Ocean’s 9.
Verdict: An enjoyable and solid new entry to the much-loved franchise, earning its place alongside its predecessors while giving us something new.