Nico’s Movie Review: ‘Ocean’s 8′ Works, But That’s It
I feel like I'm about to give the most negative-sounding positive review I've ever done.
I probably shouldn't be giving fuel to those who say that I'm a cynical reviewer, but oh well. That's just the way Ocean's 8 made me feel.
So, what is Ocean's 8? Well, it's Ocean's Eleven, as well as Twelve and Thirteen. Throw in other heist films like Now You See Me for good measure. You know the drill; a mastermind must assemble a master crew to carry out The Biggest Job Of All Time and make off with a huge payday.
Films like this usually feature an ensemble cast, and the only difference between this and previous entries in the genre is this is an all woman crew; the movie stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Anne Hathaway. How they managed to do this movie on a $70 million budget with that kind of payroll I have no clue.
I will address the whole gender issue right off the bat; I heard people bemoaning the concept when it was announced, and drawing comparisons to the 2016 Ghostbusters. Let me just say, it's not a problem. They don't make a point of it, it's just simply how the job goes down. At one point, Blanchett's character Lou asks Bullock (as Debbie Ocean, sister of George Clooney's Danny Ocean) why she turned down a male candidate for the heist, but that's it.
Putting that aside, the plot of Ocean's 8 is pretty straightforward. Debbie Ocean is fresh out of jail on parole, and has spent all of those years plotting her next big score. The plan: steal a $150 million diamond necklace off the neck of superstar Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) while she attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Met Gala. The plan is intricate, and requires a major cast of eccentric players to be pulled off.
I won't break down the details of the heist, because that's the whole fun of the movie. Suffice it to say, it's typical fare; fast, clever, advanced, and incredibly unrealistic. You're able to suspend your disbelief for the most part and enjoy the theater, although of course there are moments were you have to roll your eyes at the ridiculousness.
The wide range of talent serving Ocean's 8 also works in its favor, because the individual characters can be pretty entertaining. Sarah Paulson as the suburban mommy who works as a fence on the side is fun, and so is Awkwafina as the streetwise pickpocket drafted for her quick hands. Far and away though, I loved Anne Hathaway as the victim of this whole enterprise; She has this just-slightly-crazy quality to her performance that makes it unique.
I wish I could say the same about the leading lady, though. It's not Sandra Bullock's fault, but the character of Debbie is just so... non-existent. Her entire motivation behind this heist is given as "it's what I'm good at", a trope that I'm extremely tired of. Middle-to-upper-middle-class people carrying out heists like this just because its fun is a real turn off, and kept me from enjoying the film more.
I'm reminded of one of my favorite movies of 2017, another heist film directed by Ocean's mastermind Steven Soderbergh, and that is of course Logan Lucky. Logan Lucky is fantastic for many reasons, but chief among them in my opinion is the non-traditional take on the heist genre. In that film, we have a group of working class men carry out a robbery on the Charlotte International Speedway during a NASCAR race, not because it is fun but because they have bills to pay. The film deals with class wonderfully, and I thought it was clever how Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig robbed the NASCAR track that had been metaphorically robbing their peers for years, with $10 sodas and $20 parking.
On the other side of the coin, we have Ocean's 8. There's no point, or overall greater theme, it's just a mindless romp through The Met to steal The Big Jewels. There's nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but it's nothing special.
Ocean's 8 is a good popcorn flick, and it is a slick and fitting addition to the heist movie genre. But it doesn't break any barriers, or add anything new to the tired themes.
I'd go see it, particularly if you're a fan of Soderbergh (even though he didn't direct this one). But you won't be seeing it on my best of the year list come December.
See the trailer below.