Mission Lab

REVIEW: ‘Ocean’s 8’ and heist films: Is it OK to cheer for the bad guy?

June 8th, 2018 / By: Michael Foust / comments

REVIEW: ‘Ocean’s 8’ and heist films: Is it OK to cheer for the bad guy?

Debbie Ocean is a criminal who comes from a long line of criminals, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Perhaps that’s because she’s good at it.

She shoplifts expensive items with ease. She steals luxurious hotel suites without anyone noticing. Her latest plan, though, could top them all. She wants to steal a $150 million necklace from New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, in broad daylight, with hundreds of onlookers, and without a single gun or bomb.

Impossible? Perhaps, but she believes her elaborate plan – contrived in prison – is foolproof.

To help her, she recruits the best and brightest in the criminal world: a hacker, a master pickpocket, and a shady jewelry expert. She also gets an old friend – a middle class mom of two children who had retired from big robberies – to assist.

If they succeed, they will be set for life.   

Ocean’s 8 (PG-13) opens this weekend, giving us an all-female version of the popular heist series that began with Ocean’s Eleven in 1960 and then re-emerged with an Ocean’s Eleven remake in 2001, followed by Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). Debbie is the brother of the saga’s Danny Ocean – and every bit as cunning.

It stars Sandra Bullock (Speed, The Blind Side) as Debbie, Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) as her friend Lou, Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) as the celebrity Daphne Kluger, Mindy Kaling (A Wrinkle In Time) as her accomplice Amita, and singer Rihanna (Home) as another accomplice, Nine Ball.

Ocean’s 8 is entertaining and funny, even if it forces us to ask the obvious question: Is it OK to enjoy a movie when we’re cheering for the thief? Ocean’s 8 also has a few content problems.

Warning: minor spoilers!

(Scale key: Minimal, moderate, extreme)

Violence/Disturbing

Minimal. A woman slaps a man.

Sexuality/Sensuality/Nudity

Moderate. The same couple kisses twice in the film. We see a brief bedroom scene that doesn’t involve nudity but shows a woman handcuffing a man so she can have him arrested. Several women display cleavage in gala dresses. We also see nude paintings and statues in the art gallery.   

Coarse Language

Moderate. About 26 coarse words: S—t (9), OMG (6), misuse of “God” (3), misuse of “Jesus” (2), b—ch (2), a—(2), h—l (1), p---y (1).

Other Positive Elements

Despite her twisted motives, Debbie is pulled toward her family, including the memory of her deceased brother, Danny. 

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

We see drinking in a bar and smoking by one of the main characters. We hear someone vomit off camera.

Life Lessons

The cycle of crime within families can be difficult to break in the real world, and the same is true in Ocean’s 8, which demonstrates the importance of a family teaching children right from wrong. Debbie is a criminal because her family members were criminals. She apparently knows no other way to live.  

Worldview

From the 1960 Ocean’s Eleven film to 1966’s How To Steal A Million to the modern-day Ocean’s series and even National Treasure, heist movies fill a unique niche. Why, though, do we cheer for the bad guys in heist movies – when in the real world we would never do such a thing? One reason is that heist movies make stealing look fun, entertaining and easy. They’ll never get caught … right? Another reason: They often make the protagonists smart and endearing, and the good guys – the police and city officials -- clueless. Yet another reason is the source of the cash. Consider: Ocean’s 8 doesn’t show Debbie Ocean robbing a family’s home. Instead, she’s stealing from the rich people: the Met art gallery – an organization that has insurance to cover its losses. Most moviegoers find that easier to accept.  

For the Christian, heist movies are like doughnuts and Doritos. We know they’re not “good for us,” but they’re too delicious not to try! Ocean’s 8 is truly funny, and we do get caught up in the action, hoping that Debbie and the gang are successful in their robbery.

Viewed through a biblical worldview, heist movies are easier to accept if there’s an element of remorse, or if the protagonists get caught. I won’t tell you what happens at the end of Ocean’s 8, but some heist films do allow the moviegoer to have their cake and eat it, too.        

What Works

The heist scenes. They involve multiple players and precision timing.

What Doesn’t

For me, the ending. I like my heist movies to be more like Logan Lucky.  

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your view of heist films? When are they OK? Not OK?
  2. Do you cheer for the protagonist in heist films?
  3. What was Debbie’s motive? What role did revenge play? What does the Bible say about revenge?
  4. If Debbie and her friends were never caught, do you think they would have lived happy, guilt-free lives?

Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Ocean’s 8 is rated PG-13 for language, drug use, and some suggestive content.