Ocean's 8 Movie Review
The boys are gone and the girls are up to no good in Ocean’s 8, an entertaining heist film that more than adequately follows in its predecessors footsteps--even if it never quite matches the layered intelligence or sense of satisfaction won by George Clooney and crew.
After a couple of so-so Oceans sequels, recasting with women didn’t seem like enough of a reason to reboot the franchise. Unlike Ghostbusters, which swapped out nostalgia-laden characters with new ones and, frankly, just wasn't a very good movie, Ocean's 8 quickly establishes that this new movie isn't "just Ocean's Eleven with women." Director Gary Ross takes the reins and delivers a film that stylistically feels very similar to its Steven Soderbergh predecessors but offers a fresh spin and an array of amusing characters.
Sandra Bullock plays Danny Ocean’s sister, who has the same knack for complex heists and envisions a big payday if she and her crew (which includes Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson and someone who purposefully chose to name herself Awkwafina) are able to pull off a massive crime: stealing a $150-million necklace from an actress (Anne Hathaway) in the middle of the Met Ball.
There's also some subplot about getting revenge on the dude who sent her to prison.
Bullock is at the top of her game, but Ocean’s 8, like its predecessors, excels due to the cast’s chemistry. The women are clearly having fun, which in turn makes it easy for the audience to go along for the ride. Cate Blanchett doesn't get a lot to do, but exudes charisma every chance she has, while Awkwafina, while I can't take her name seriously, is a scene-stealer as a sassy pickpocket. As for Rihanna, I can't tell whether her characters plays to stereotype or against it, but she works well enough, and Kaling thankfully rebounds from her awful turn in A Wrinkle in Time earlier this year.
As for Ross, he appears to have had fun behind the camera, too; the movie has a kinetic energy that thrives off its characters and ever-more-elaborate plot.
Where the movie falls a bit short is in its comparison to Ocean's Eleven. Any sequel or reboot should strive to be better, and Ocean's 8 doesn't entirely get there. The heist, while good, doesn't live up to the elaborate scheme put to film in 2001; it seemingly relies more on coincidences and conveniences, and the big twists don't land as well, either. The absence of a villain hurts as well; apparently, the bad guy is Bullock's former flame (played by Richard Armitage), but his entire role and subplot could have been excised in the editing room and we would never have noticed.
The movie never quite matches the Clooney “original,” but that’s just fine; it’s its own creature, not entirely beholden to what came before it. Despite a few shortcomings, Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining, funny, well-acted, and intelligent heist film that exceeds expectations.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.