Is Danny Ocean Really Dead in Ocean’s 8?

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Sandra Bullock in Ocean’s 8. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

This post contains spoilers for Ocean’s 8.

If, as Tina Fey once said, Gravity was about how George Clooney would “rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age,” Ocean’s 8 takes it one further – in a film that stars four different actresses over 40, Clooney doesn’t even show up. But the movie is sure to give us a very good reason: As we learn at the very beginning of the movie, Clooney’s Danny Ocean has died of unknown causes while his sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock) was locked away in prison.

Or … has he?

The question of whether or not the silver-haired charmer has actually shuffled off this mortal coil hangs over the film from the very first scene. (“My brother, may he rest in peace, was a criminal,” Debbie tells her parole board.) After our heroine has scammed her way into an armful of beauty supplies and a room at the Plaza, she pays a visit to Danny’s grave, a gorgeous marble crypt that I guess is the kind of thing you can afford when you’ve robbed the Bellagio. “You’d better be in there,” she tells him. If you’ve seen any movie — and especially if you’ve seen an Ocean’s movie — this is the part where you start to suspect he’s not really dead. We’ve seen Danny Ocean slip through high-tech security systems, casino holding cells, and Andy Garcia’s clutches. Surely we’re meant to believe he’s evaded death as well?

It’s not just Debbie: Other characters, too, can’t stop talking about how Danny’s possibly still alive. When Constance (Awkwafina) interrupts the plotting to ask for a Metrocard, she makes a point of complimenting Debbie’s hot dead brother, then asks, “Sure he’s dead?” And consider these three pieces of evidence:

We never see a body.
It’s like I always say, if a movie doesn’t show you the body, it’s not fooling anybody.

We never learn how Danny died.
Was he hit by a truck? Shot by an assassin? In the cockpit of an exploding plane? Forget getting a story straight, this move doesn’t even give us a story.

His gravestone says he died in 2018.
Hmm. A little bit of a coincidence that Danny would “die” right before his heist-loving sister got out of prison, wouldn’t you think?

Add it all up, and the movie might as well be screaming at us, “He’s not really dead!” Which is why the final scene threw me for such a loop. Having successfully pulled off her Met Gala heist, Debbie returns to her brother’s grave with a cocktail shaker. She pours a martini, and tells him, “You would have loved it.” If you’re anything like me, you expected this to be the moment all would be revealed. Would an elegantly aged hand reach out and take the martini? Would a male shadow appear from around the corner? Or, in my dream of dreams, would Clooney’s butterscotch baritone intone: “I did.”

But no! None of those things happen. Instead, after a film’s worth of build-up, we go to the credits without any appearances from a two-time People’s Sexiest Man Alive; the mystery of whether Danny Ocean is really dead goes unresolved. (I guess George Clooney had better things to do.) So, you tell me: Is Danny a thief, a liar, and a corpse — or was he only lying about being a corpse?

Is Danny Ocean Really Dead in Ocean’s 8?