I was relieved to discover that OCEAN’S 8 was actually quite decent. Decent and enjoyable enough to be better than the sloggy 12 and 13, but nowhere near the greatness of 11 or Logan Lucky (Logan Lucky has nothing to do with the Ocean’s series other than being another heist film and directed by Soderberg who did all the rest but this one). It fits comfortable somewhere right in the middle. The heist was fun, and the star studded women and their chemistry to one another definitely made this one of those “female driven reboots” to actually check out, unlike the abysmal Ghostbusters we got a couple of years ago. While the story is a bit of a straight point and shoot affair (it is missing the cinematic sting of Soderberg for sure), a definite soft reboot/remake/sequel to 11 (like Force Awakens was to A New Hope), and some predictability issues, the entire being of it has just enough to give it that oomph to see where it could go if they were to possibly make a 9 and 10 (which they most definitely will). If you see this movie and wonder where the hell I got my enjoyment of it, because not a lot of critics or audiences liked it, just know that I have a soft spot for heist films.
Why? Because I believe you have to have an incredibly talented imagination and have superior skills to even write something as intricate and detail oriented as a heist film. I get truly impressed easily I guess (probably why Inception is my favorite film of all time). You get one detail wrong in those films, everybody will be all over your ass. The films starts like the first one does, with Sandra Bullock’s Debbie Ocean, getting out of jail after a five year stint, and looking for revenge and riches. Only this time the revenge isn’t with someone that took your wife/husband, this revenge deals with the man her sent her to jail in the first place. We are let known that this is a sequel to the Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13 (even though this is called 8) because we learn that *minor spoiler alert* that Danny Ocean has just recently passed away. Although the film does leave hints that he might not necessarily be dead if George Clooney would be interested in doing a quick cameo or small role. There are also a couple of quick surprise guests from the previous film, one of them truly being incredibly funny and putting a smile on my face. Anyway, Debbie Ocean wants to rob a $150 million dollar Cartier necklace that they are going to try and get out from under the vault it has been in for more than 50 years and get it on the neck of a celebrity (a fictional one played by Anne Hatheway) and then steal it at the annual Met Gala. The rest of the details I’ll leave be so you can see the movie and enjoy the caper for yourself.
The intricacy of the heist and mainly the chemistry of all the women together made the film be better than average. Sandra Bullock is honestly just kind of Sandra Bullock in this film, but her leadership role and her dynamic with Cate Blanchett, who is definitely the woman Brad Pitt in this movie with her suave as hell character, makes up for her lack of dimension. Anne Hathaway is probably the one that shines the most here, playing the ultimate celebrities’ celebrity, completely aloof to what is going on and everything being about her, her, her. The one that probably gets the least screen time and character development is Mindy Kaling, who at least plays it straight laced and isn’t just being Mindy from The Office or The Mindy Project again. Right behind Hathaway would be Helena Bonham Carter, who always brings her A game, and plays a fun yet neurotic famous fashion designer that joins the heist because she in debt to the IRS. And then right behind Carter would be Rihanna, who I think is a better actress than she thinks she is, having come off of this as an actual cool character and her brief yet most memorable stint in last year’s Valerian. Awkwafina (is it really pronounced like the bottled water?!?), who basically is Matt Damon’s pick pocketing role has several scenes to shine, and Sarah Paulson is just as good here in anything that she does (which is a lot). The cast bounces off each other with grace and charm, and their scenes together are definitely better than the ones apart.
Gary Ross (who did Pleasantville ((still his best film)) and the first Hunger Games film) is behind the camera on this one, and frankly, his inferiority to Soderberg shows. Steven Soderberg, even with the flimsy 12 and 13 had a great visual style that reverberated throughout all the films, even at their lowest points there was something interesting on camera. Here, with Ross, it is mostly a point and shoot affair, and anything visually interesting you would assume he just completely ripped off from Soderberg. Maybe we could get Steven to come back for 9? His direction isn’t horribly mind you, but it is just plain Jane. I am though wondering if they had to film this very fast because of everyone’s schedule, so visual flair got in the way of actually getting a complete film in the can? Who knows?
But I still had fun with Ocean’s 8. And my wife, who saw it with me, liked it quite a bit as well (she had to go pee really really bad with still 50 minutes left and managed to hold it in, so that says something) It isn’t the end all be all of heist films, but that is ok, it wasn’t meant to be. It is just meant to be a quick fun summer film that you can just play along and get away from reality for for a couple of hours. I mean if you pointed a gun to my head and said, “you have 5 seconds, another all female Ghostbuster film, or Ocean’s 9 with the same cast?” I would quickly choose Ocean’s 9, no question. Female driven reboots can work, and this one proves that it can. But hopefully, maybe next time, we could get something that could become a classic. This just wets the appetite.