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Ocean's 8 review - an honestly powerful, fun, girl-power adventure

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Verdict: What could be more overdue that an all-female heist movie? A fantastic, star-studded, amazingly fun must-watch.

“A ‘him’ gets interest, a ‘her’ gets ignored. For once, we want to be ignored,” Debbie Ocean tells her partner-in-crime, Lou. This is the simple set-up to the film’s subversive subtext: the leveraging of women’s invisibility as a source of power.

Ocean’s 8 certainly may not reinvent the original Ocean’s formula, but it does lend it a distinctive female flair. After all, the film features the infiltration of the most glamorous party of the year, the theft of an antique Cartier necklace valued at $150 million, an abundance of celebrity cameos, and designer outfits to die for.  

More importantly however, is the subtle joke made throughout, that this team of crooks are pulling off a ‘feminine’ version of the classic Ocean heist not because they find jewellery any more enticing than say, a casino, but rather that their womanhood gives them an advantage in carrying out this particular heist.

For instance, when the team’s mark, Anne Hathaway’s wonderful Daphne Kluger, is made ill by the soup she’s eating, the plan hinges on men not being allowed to follow her into the women’s bathroom. The theft hinges on the security guards’ chivalry, and thus Debbie’s team is betting on their knowledge of patriarchal dynamics and using them to their advantage.

Ocean’s 8 is a celebration of the female gender. Parallels are drawn between Sandra Bullock’s ideology of theft and a desire to be free – from societal rules, from the lawful order, from people’s expectations. The message is playful but honest: “Somewhere out there, there’s an 8-year-old girl dreaming of becoming a criminal,” Debbie tells her team. “You’re doing this for her.”

The nonchalance and joy with which this line-up performs their tasks springs the film from being a mere gender-swapped remake. The entire thing is so natural that it takes this ‘novel’ concept and renders it a total irrelevance. It’s a crowd-pleasing triumph, finally introducing women into a genre that’s been nonsensically restricted to men, from Rififi, to The Italian Job, to The Town and Logan Lucky.  

It should come as no surprise that the cast ensemble is fresh perfection. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, and Sarah Paulson’s talented performances and camaraderie make for a genuinely fun and exciting atmosphere, both in the narrative and the film theatre. Despite such a large ensemble, no actress is left behind, each standing their ground in very strong supporting performances.

Only one criticism can be levelled against the story, which is an annoying subplot involving Debbie’s former lover. It almost dilutes the purity of this all-girls badassery, breaking the overall rhythm somewhat; thankfully however, this filler isn’t granted too much time or energy. Afterall, it would take far more to detract from these women's performances.

Sure, the action is nothing particularly new, but the film is different enough to keep the audience interested and to stand on its own, the character comedy is wonderful, the cast is dazzlingly talented, and the elaborate plan is just ‘perfect’ enough to gratify viewers and fulfil genre expectations.

Ocean's 8 is released on the 18th June, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. 

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