OCEAN’S 8 Brings a Great New Cast, Could Use More of the Old Spark

A beloved series returns with a fresh new ensemble, but how does it hold up?

Stephen Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Trilogy is a fun, ultra-stylized, and eminently rewatchable series of heist movies with a unique, recognizable flair. While fans tend to have their favorites or dislike the sequels (particular Ocean’s Twelve), all three are enjoyable and deliver on a certain formula of ritzy style and surprising twists.

Coming a decade later, Ocean’s 8 is a surprise 4th entry in the series (5th if you count the 1960 original) under new director Gary Ross that both tries to fit the series template while also being something very different — a tough balancing act that it does with mixed success.

Credit to this team for trying to do things differently. Most obviously, this is a reboot of sorts that moves on from the trilogy’s cast to focus on a new ensemble led by Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) — the sister and parallel character to George Clooney’s Danny Ocean. After being released from prison, Debbie gathers up a new and all-female crew to execute a daring heist that she’s spent the last five years developing while incarcerated — and pin it all on her devious, no-good ex (Richard Armitage), whose betrayal put her there.

Like Soderbergh’s films, the team in Ocean’s 8 is a terrific mixed-race ensemble that incorporates huge megastars, solid character actors, and a couple of lesser-knowns into its mix. Bullock and Cate Blanchett are sort of the Clooney-Pitt core, with Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, and Awkwafina filling out the team as various experts in their fields — a fashion designer, jeweler, hacker, pickpocket, etc.

They’re setting out to rob a ritzy celebrity gala at The Met (New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art), a jewel heist targeting a famous diamond necklace worth over $150M that hasn’t left its impenetrable vault in half a century. The plan involves setting a famous actress (Anne Hathaway, tragically playing a fictional actress instead of herself) up as a patsy to borrow and wear the diamonds at the event, so they in turn can rob her.

Unfortunately the film never feels as fun, humorous, surprising, snappy, or even colorful as the originals, lacking the tension and audience investment that feel unique and necessary to the series. Even though the cast is amazing, there’s a more rote sense of “they set out with a plan, and then go do it” than in the previous films which all had a lot more going on — more setbacks, more big antics, and certainly more humor. It goes through some of the motions of the funky music, high-tech gadgetry, and snazzy editing, but without delivering the same whirlwind of exhilaration that marks the other films.

But there’s a lot of good here as well. The film’s last act is certainly the most fun, delivering some twists that we’re waiting for, and channeling a revenge subplot and payoff (and James Corden in a very fun role as an insurance investigator who’s putting things together). Interestingly, it’s this enjoyable post-heist denouement that proves to be the most entertaining and satisfying part of the film, and it’s here that it finally starts to feel like an Ocean’s movie.

Ocean’s 8 is unfortunately perhaps the least of the series, but that being said, it’s the least of a great series and I still enjoyed it and would be game for another outing with this new team to see them stick the landing. I loved the cast and was surprised by the twists, but fans of the series expecting the same level of feverish style and excitement of the prior films may leave disappointed.

The Package

Ocean’s 8 arrived on home video from Warner Bros this weekend, with the 4K Combo release being the crown jewel version, including a Blu-ray disc and Digital copy. My copy came with a metallic foil slipcover.

In preparing to watch Ocean’s 8, I revisited the first three films on Blu-ray — and was surprised at how bad Ocean’s 13 in particular looked, with ridiculous color timing and loads of digital crush.

Ocean’s 8 exhibits none of these problems — both the Blu-ray (pictured in screenshots) and 4K presentation look beautiful and even filmlike (which is ironic, considering Ocean’s 13 was actually shot on film but looks digital).

Special Features and Extras

The 4K disc includes the movie only, while the included Blu-ray includes some extras. All three featurettes include interviews with cast and crew including director Gary Ross, writer Olivia Milch, and various cast members.

A Heist in Heels (11:35)
Discussing the film’s concept and development.

Ocean’s Team 3.0 (13:20)
Of particular interest is Costume Designer Sarah Edwards discussing the looks that she delivered for the unique cast members.

Reimagining the Met Gala (12:47)
Industry experts chime in along with cast and crew to talk about the staging of the heist’s famous location.

Deleted Scenes (1:53)

Promotional Trailers
for Crazy Rich Asians (2:34) and A Star is Born (2:33)

A/V Out.

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All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.


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