Quick Hit: Paint by numbers, but the charismatic cast still makes it fun.
The original Oceans were films crafted to reflect the charisma of George Clooney and others of his gang. But Steven Soderbergh gave life to the films by allowing everything to zip. He made an exciting set of heists that used all the stars to their greatest effect, and gave us quick reflections on what the characters were like. But the heists were also extremely exciting affairs where you learned all manner of things that needed to happen as the heist was occurring.
The best thing I can say about Ocean’s Eight is that it valiantly tries to copy this formula, and for the most part succeeds. However, it’s a bit like looking in your reflection in a pond – you’re there, but there’s quite a few ripples to change your appearance.
Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has just been released from jail. She’s done nothing but think up a new plan and think about framing the man who got her into jail for five years. Once out, she immediately meets up with Lou, her fiercely banged friend (Cate Blanchett) and discusses her plan – she wants to steal the Toussaint – a 150 million dollar necklace. And she wants to take it right off the neck of Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) – socialite of the moment. How does she plan to do that? Well first she needs to fill out her crew, and then the game is afoot and you’ll find out!
The movie is pretty standard, and there is absolutely no suspense involved. You know what’s happening almost from the start, and there is no way these ladies will fail their mission. And in some sense, that’s ok – I enjoy a good popcorn thriller every once in a while. But when you’re used to seeing Bullock and Blanchett take on some much heavier roles, it’s a bit of a disappointment to see them not get to really use it. Even their comedy skills, well-developed, not really get a chance to shine outside of the opening minutes of the film.
If there is a star that shines brightest here, it’s Hathaway as Kluger. It’s a fallback role to some of her younger roles like Ella Enchanted and The Princess Diaries, and it’s so much fun to watch her sink into Kluger as a disgustingly perfect and yet flawed person. It’s a really fun role, and she consistently steals the screen away from her contemporaries – as would Ms. Kluger, I imagine.
However, the movie is very entertaining. Each woman finds her niche and sticks to it. Even if they don’t have much personality – a lot of the characters in the original movies were only defined by their roles, so those expecting something different here should be ashamed. In some ways, the women mesh much more than the men ever did, and the release of the film coinciding with the #MeToo movement means that there’s so much behind this movie that you can’t see. I applaud the women for doing the film.
I enjoyed it, but it’s not going to be winning any awards. I’m giving this one a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"