There are a few ingredients we expect to find in a satisfying heist movie: an appealing cast of unsavory yet amiable characters, a script that leaves plenty of room for entertaining banter amid the criminal mischief, and an ingeniously complex scheme, preferably taking place in a unique setting. Barring all that, the film has to at least be directed with enough style and energy that we don't have an opportunity to notice any of those potential weak spots.
A gender-swapped spin-off of Steven Soderbergh's trilogy of "Ocean's" films, "Ocean's 8" checks most of those boxes while offering the distinct pleasure of watching its insanely talented cast have a blast and look great doing it. Which is a good thing, since the title's numerical value just so happens to leave enough room for two more movies with its all-female crew.
Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, estranged sister of George Clooney's Danny Ocean, the suave ringmaster at the center of Soderbergh's films. Fresh off a prison stint for art fraud, Debbie has spent her time away concocting a new crime because, well, it's what she does best. Debbie wastes little time in reconnecting with her right-hand woman, Lou (Cate Blanchett), letting her partner in on a plot to steal a $150 million dollar diamond necklace from the Met Gala, the haute couture event of the season.
The pair immediate put a team together, handpicked for their specialized skills: there's the past-he- prime fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter) who'll get them access to the event, a hacker (Rihanna), a pickpocket-con artist (rapper-comedian Awkwafina), a criminal-mastermind-turned-suburban-mom (Sarah Paulson), and a jeweler (Mindy Kaling). Then there's the It Girl starlet (Anne Hathaway) whose neck they'll have to steal the necklace off of.
The script by Ross and Olivia Milch makes sure each actress gets at least a moment to shine, but the thinness of the supporting characters leaves us wanting even more. Bullock is typically appealing in the straight-man (er, woman?) role, and she shares enough chemistry with Blanchett (looking stunning in a series of impeccably tailored pant suits) that we're left wondering whether their characters might once have been partners in any other sense.
Bonham Carter and Hathaway are the clear MVPs. Bonham Carter brings a wonderful, slightly daffy energy to her character; and playing a winking version of herself, Hathaway reminds us of the considerable comedic chops that she sadly doesn't get to flex nearly often enough.
"Ocean's 8" mostly sticks to formula, though Gary Ross' direction lacks the precision and style of Soderbergh (who's still on board as producer). It's so breezy and light that it's basically a hangout movie. Which isn't a bad thing, even if the low-key vibe does dilute some of the suspense over whether or not the crew will be able to pull things off. But there's no denying the pleasures of watching its glamorous cast act cool in exquisite designer clothing. Taken as a comedy about female friendship that also happens to have a heist in it, "Ocean's 8" is slick, fizzy entertainment that doesn't disappoint.