Ocean's 8 Review
Why send a man to do a woman’s job?
Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway head an all-star all-female ensemble in this gender-switched take on Ocean’s Eleven.What happens when you take an A-list ensemble cast, a fast-paced heist/comedy script and give it to Hollywood? Up until now, it’s been a buddy comedy starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and their pals, but it’s 2018 and there’s a new master criminal in town.
Following in the footsteps of 2016’s Ghostbusters, this is a take on a popular Hollywood movie where all the major characters – formerly male, shock shock – are female. In this case, the film being spun-off from is Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (which was itself a remake of a 1960 Rat Pack movie).
Sandra Bullock takes the lead here as Debbie Ocean, the younger sister of the titular Danny Ocean from the previous films. The set up is similar to Soderbergh’s 2001 film – Debbie has been in prison for an extended amount of time, and it transpires she’s not really been doing much reflecting on her transgressions; in fact, she’s spent five years in the pen planning her next big heist.
The cast is, unsurprisingly, absolutely excellent; by the end of this film you’ll want the Bullock-Blanchett duo leading every film Hollywood churns out.
After linking up with her right-hand woman Lou (Cate Blanchett), Debbie unveils a dazzling plot to steal a $150 million Cartier necklace from the Met Gala. With Lou onboard, Debbie assembles the rest of her crack team, thus beginning a parade of some of Hollywood’s most famous and talented actresses.
The motley crew is made up of a failed fashion designer (Helena Bonham-Carter), a beleaguered jewellery maker (Mindy Kaling), a part-time fence (Sarah Paulson), a whip-smart hacker (Rihanna) and a wily pickpocket (Awkwafina). Oscar winner Anne Hathaway takes the part of Daphne Kluger, the dim but dainty Hollywood actress who will wear the jewels to the ball, while the nefarious nemesis is played by Richard Armitage. The cast is, unsurprisingly, absolutely excellent; by the end of this film you’ll want the Bullock-Blanchett duo leading every film Hollywood churns out.
Hathaway is outstanding, lampooning the airhead-actress stereotype with aplomb (in fact, the real heist might be Hathaway stealing the film from under her famous co-stars’ noses). All the performances are excellent, and there’s something undeniably joyful about seeing a film that’s about female friendship, and women just plain getting the job done. That said, Kaling, Awkwafina and Rihanna are all noticeably underused, and despite lots of superb chemistry and screen-time, there’s even a sense that Blanchett could have done a bit more.
For the most part, this is a brilliantly enjoyable caper, with the superstar cast on fine form, plenty of entertaining theft-related sequences and a handful of recognisable cameos thrown in. The problem for Ocean’s 8 comes really in the final third, when the script seems to begin to run out of steam a little. That said, there can be no doubt this is an enjoyable, slick and thoroughly professional job, both on and off-screen.
While no one is ever going to call the twists and turns of Ocean’s Eleven high-theatre, some may criticise the lack of setbacks - a slyly revealing flashback (bonus points for a slow-motion sleight of hand shot), a crucial plot being thwarted or a nail-biting mistake – others will be overjoyed by simply viewing a film where a group of women work together to complete a task without being pestered.
Some may argue that so much star-power leads to a slightly disparate performance that’s markedly less chummy than the Soderbergh films. Others will recognise this is a standalone film and relish that each woman is a character in her own right and given a more well-rounded character than being just ‘one of the guys’ (although there can be little debate that some characters are much more developed than others, and some of the supporting stars deserve more screen time… Ocean’s 9, anyone?)
It’s a really entertaining blockbuster just perfect for summer.
Gary Ross’ direction is clinical and slick, the script has some stylish one-liners, and the film has all the right bits in all the right places; if people (rightly) view this as its own film rather than reaching to compare every element with the Soderbergh series, they will find an enjoyable film that’s… fun. It’s a really entertaining blockbuster just perfect for summer.
It probably won’t be something that sticks with you for a long time after watching… which would be good, if it were a real-life heist. It deserves more than being cast as the quirky ‘gender-flip’ relative of the Ocean’s Trilogy, and it’s a fun watch that will hopefully set a precedent for more diverse casts in Hollywood. Come for the glitz and glamour of the heist, stay for Anne Hathaway’s scene-stealing performance – a gem worth robbing the Met Gala for.
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