I’ve loved a good heist movie ever since I saw The Italian Job. I remember when I worked at Blockbuster–yeah, that Blockbuster–and my manager kept insisting that I watch it. I put it off and put if off until she finally sat me in the back and demanded that I watch the entire thing during one shift. In hindsight, actions like that might have been why the stores closed…
Anyway, back to it!
Ocean’s 8! I was seriously hyped for this movie, especially the cast. I even went with my own entourage of women so that we could all enjoy the movie together. And we did, but it felt a bit flat and thrilling all at the same time, and it took me a while to figure out why that was.
And then it hit me in the shower, as, you know, random thoughts do.
Spoiler alert! You’ve been warned.
First off: the flat. What left me feeling unsatisfied? What did I have a problem with?
It was too easy. They had a plan, they executed the plan, and nothing really went wrong. Sure, there were minor hiccups. But they had contingencies for those minor hiccups. And the building suspense of those parts where the plan’s unraveling and they have to come up with solutions on the fly…just…wasn’t…there.
I get that Sandra Bullock’s character, Debbie Ocean, spent years prepping for this job. But how could she have counted on five years’ worth of technological advancements? How could she have counted on the Met not revamping how they run their event?
That nagged at me, but not nearly as much as the number of players in the heist. It’s in the title, for crying out loud. Eight. Eight members. Yet, throughout the heist, there were only seven. It left me wondering (because I’d seen the poster too, and you know, Anne Hathaway’s character, Daphne, was shown with the thieves, so that made me wonder even more) who this mysterious eighth woman might be. Surprise, surprise, Daphne is working with the team once she’s realized what’s happening. I don’t really count it as much of an AH HA! moment when she’s literally on the poster and counted as one of Ocean’s 8.
Another problem I had concerned Richard Armitage’s character, Claude Becker. He was the reason Debbie had been thrown in prison in the first place, and, well, you know, that had to be brought back in at some point. It wasn’t any surprise when the next AH HA! moment was Debbie explaining that, in addition to them stealing this fantabulous Cartier necklace, she planned to pin it on the former-boyfriend-turned-traitor. Women like revenge, apparently, so the movie hyped that up as well. Again, the moment felt stilted because we’d seen Debbie taunting Claude and then purposefully going out of her way to “brush” against him in the middle of the heist…and plant some incriminating evidence during that close encounter.
I started to have hope that things weren’t going to be so nicely packaged when James Corden’s character, John Frazier, showed up and started asking the right questions. But then Debbie easily bribed him into submission/helping and that ended any chance of this con actually having to stumble and course-correct. Which felt like a cop-out, personally.
That being said, there was one thing that shocked me enough in the grand reveal: Lou. Cate Blanchett did a wonderful job in this role, yet during the heist itself, she seemed to have a remarkably small role. But the movie didn’t shove it in your face. Didn’t wave around a banner shrieking “Look at me! This is going to be important later!” like it’d done to ruin our previous AH HA! moments. The lack of Lou’s involvement with most of the heist was subtle. And for good reason, given that her main task was to steal from the exhibits, and not the Cartier necklace. So when the jewels showed up in the hideout’s fridge (a nice touch, I thought), I was genuinely surprised. And thrilled. Because we’d finally had something that wasn’t so obviously telegraphed beforehand.
Another thrill moment occurred at the beginning. When Debbie, fresh out of prison, walks off in one of the most bad-ass coats I’ve ever seen with $40 in her pocket. She’s told the guard she could go wherever she wants on that $40. And, as a person who can’t manage to make my paycheck last until the next, I was skeptical. But man, oh man, watching Debbie slide through the mall and the hotel, taking what she wanted with only her wit and her charm left me completely stunned. This was what I wanted to see. And Sandra Bullock delivered spectacularly.
Where the movie truly shown was in the acting and the relationships shown on screen between the thieves. They bonded well, working together, and each got the freedom they wanted. For me, as a woman, that hit home. And it hit hard. Despite how disappointed I was in the heist, I loved seeing these women going for the gold–and the freedom they could buy with it. I loved seeing uncomplicated female relationships (no men involved, yay!) and I absolutely adored how the heist was less about the money and more about achieving the success each wants. As subtle as Lou was in stealing the crown jewels, the film did AN AMAZING job in subtly telling the audience this: a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
As a heist movie, I walked out feeling flat. But as a movie illustrating women doing powerful things, I think Ocean’s 8 struck all the right chords.