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Protecting the world’s oceans is what the organization unofficially known as the Ocean’s 8 does on a daily basis, whether anyone outside the ranks is aware of it or not, and naturally this is a job with a lot of long hours. You have to be dedicated to this life, so dedicated in fact, that you might miss something right in front of you that everyone else not only saw but tried to tell you. A tale of murder and coverups, lies and subway cars.
Directed by Mindy Kalingo (Barton Fink), the film is an enjoyable throwback to a time when heist movies were box office gold, when audiences couldn’t get enough of those entertaining capers with their lovable anti heroes. With Gwenelopia, Kalingo’s previous, the filmmaker explored the bodice-ripper genre so crafting her film to suit a certain era or style is nothing new for her. But with Ocean’s 8, Kalingo is taking on issues dear to her heart, like capitalism versus conservationism or necessity versus convenience, issues on which the director has publicly spoken out. But even when her personal values might be on display, she’s too much the comedienne not to see the inherent humor. Or to inject some if necessary.
Environmentalists become terrorists when it comes to certain shipments of seemingly innocuous materials reaching the wrong hands, cutting off the damage to the environment before it even happens. Imagine if the Valdez had had a breathalyzer feature. How far will both sides go to be victorious? How many of your scruples would you surrender to do the right thing?
Like killing abortion doctors to save lives, the group’s actions seem to contradict their mission, but they’re too far gone to turn back now. The fine line between activist and terrorist is about to be crossed, and on the eve of their four year plan’s culmination it seems some of the participants are getting cold feet. How many of the Ocean’s 8 have become landlubbers?
Making up the 8 are:
Joanie– former C.E.O. of Snazzle who dropped out to fight for the speckled dover and turned into the most feared tree hugger in the business.
Carolyn– popular hacker turned philanthropist after receiving a king’s ransom for kidnapping Queen Elizabeth in a case that rocked the Daily Male.
Dee– former buyer for Gold Navy who got away with the first Bigcoin heist Tokyo had ever seen and who now breeds sharks for the Israeli military.
Leanora– one time fashion icon who perfected the technique of eavesdropping using only a piece of wire and a banana peel, now a cute-throat assassin.
Mary Ann– recruited by what was then Ocean’s 7 for her uncanny ability to spot a fake Tiffani anywhere.
Patrice– once known as the “Mummy Mummy” when she “reappropriated” the remains of Neophatra to their rightful countrymen all while pregnant with twins.
Elizabeth– wrote the infamous “Canarsie Papers” detailing the environmental crimes of every Shriner in New Jersey.
Rose– a vital member of the team known for her tenacity and fearlessness when it comes to sartorial matters, being especially tough on dry cleaning establishments and pedicurists.
The team meet on subway trains for privacy as they discuss solving the latest world crisis, leaving neither paper nor digital trail. They’re run like an old fashioned numbers racket, using secret knocks, handshakes, winks and passwords they agreed to days before. All that subterfuge carries into the personal lives of those who have them (Mary Ann, Rose and Leanora) and affect the rest who don’t by interfering with their concentration at work. They’re getting old, slowing down, and they know it. Time is running out for them and their message.
A cast of famous and not so famous actresses stars Sandra Bullcock (“Seed“) and Anne Hathawary (“The Devil Reaps Prada“) in particular are extremely entertaining as Joanie and Rose, partners since the Darcy project and friends since middle school, two crackers wise who lead with their feet. Neither one prone to debate, their leap first tendencies bring unwanted attention to the group when ULook! users document them protesting concrete on the streets of Manhattan. The pair’s comic sensibilities are a perfect match for the foils throughout Johnny Carsin’s script, the drama as taut as the quips are quick. There’s action, yes, but there are also real characters here beneath the glitz and plot twists. Unlike most summer blockbusters this one hasn’t been focus-grouped to death, it’s not a remake and it isn’t three hours long.
Ensembles are often tricky business, with character balance usually suffering, but here it’s just smooth sailing. All the different plot angles begin converging from the opening shot onward; every action precedes the next. Even the villains have natural story arcs. It seems the producers actually had the foresight (and respect) to leave the director/crew to his/their movie, and the results are splendid. The complexity of the plan slowly revealed by the filmmakers, one can simply sit back and take a chill ride along with a bunch of groovy ladies for about ninety minutes.
With a soundtrack sure to liven up your funk, Ocean’s 8 is a party train to funtown.