It’s a peculiar state of affairs, the film industry that is. While reboots, remakes, prequels and sequels seem to be garnering much disdain from the movie-going audience of late, studios still push ahead with them regardless.
I mean, look at poor Disney and the performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story if you need any indication of a tiring audience. Female-led reboots are all the rage now too with Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters being met with a dreadful run at the box office despite decent critical responses. Next up, we’ve got Ocean’s 8, a sequel no-one was really asking for but got anyway. Is it worth a watch?
Five years, eight months, 12 days and counting – that’s how long Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has been devising the biggest heist of her life. She knows what it’s going to take – a team of the best people in the field, starting with her partner-in-crime Lou Miller (Cate Blanchett). Together, they recruit a crew of specialists, including jeweller Amita, street con Constance, suburban mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), and fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter). Their target: a necklace that’s worth more than $150 million.
Gary Ross, director of the first Hunger Games movie, takes over from Steven Soderbergh to helm a film that is perfectly passable popcorn fodder, but sadly nothing more. But, for the sake of this review, let’s start with the positives.
The cast is by far, the biggest selling point for this film. Filled to the brim with talent like Bullock, Blanchett and Paulson, it was always going to be a win-win situation pulling an ensemble like this together. Bullock is absolutely fabulous from the minute the film begins and Anne Hathaway is clearly having a ball playing an over-the-top version of herself. Helena Bonham Carter is surprisingly good as a failing Irish fashion designer and it’s always a joy seeing Sarah Paulson’s understated performances grace the big screen.
What’s not so good is the way the film treats its stars from different ethnicities however. Rihanna, Mindy Kaling (Amita) and Awkwafina (Constance) are sorely underused throughout. In fact, outside of Paulson, Awkwafina and Kaling provide the film with its most intriguing characters – but we learn very little about them apart from a few scenes studying their personal/professional lives.
It’s also best not to talk about James Corden and his hideously over-acted performance as fraud investigator John. Filled with cringeworthy dialogue, it’s a miracle his part is relatively short. Like a bad smell however, he lingers for much too long.
Then there’s the plot, or rather the script. In making these women the absolute best-of-the-best, there are no high stakes, no tension to be had or anything remotely resembling a narrow-escape. There’s the obligatory ‘oh no’ moment as something looks like it’s going to go wrong, but it’s rectified so suddenly that any joy in watching the heist unfold is completely lost. Where the previous Ocean’s movies were riddled with tension, Ocean’s 8 is devoid of it.
Thankfully, the plan is fun if a little uninspiring to behold, filled with bland cinematography very similar to what was seen in the first Hunger Games film way back in 2012. It’s all just very staid, like the studio was simply ticking boxes on a checklist to make sure they got a film that would make them money, but was lacking anything in the way of originality.
But perhaps the biggest sin that Ocean’s 8 commits is its complete lack of plausibility. Article upon article has already been created in which writers dissect the film’s heist plan and come up with the same conclusion: it can’t be done. You don’t need those articles though, because the plot holes are big enough for anyone to see and that’s a real shame. This becomes increasingly evident in the film’s final 10 minutes which makes a mockery of everything that came before.
Overall, Ocean’s 8 is your typical summer blockbuster. It’s light, breezy and like a big tub of cottage cheese, devoid of any personality whatsoever. It’s saving grace is the cast. Managing to pull together an ensemble this good takes a lot of effort, and for that, it deserves some praise – faint praise, but praise nonetheless.