Ocean’s 8 is an enjoyable movie that revisits a familiar premise: an all-star cast gets together to pull off a ridiculous heist. Even with a few drawbacks, Ocean’s 8 is exactly what I expected – a fun heist movie.
Despite taking place in the same cinematic universe, the continuation of the George Clooney/Brad Pitt movies wipes the slate clean of the original cast (nearly) with its own alluring talent. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Helena Bonham Carter comprise the new crew.
Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, the sister of Clooney’s master thief. The film picks up after Danny Ocean died and Debbie is being released from prison. She immediately gets the gang together to snag a $150 million necklace at the Met Gala. Anne Hathaway is Daphne Kluger, a self-absorbed actress who is wearing the necklace to the gala.
The setting of the heist is irresistible fun. The glamor of one of the most exclusive affairs in the world allows for an interesting setting for a robbery. How can you steal jewelry from the biggest star in a room that is beset by press, celebrities, and security?
Set to the familiar jazzy music from the original movies, the caper itself is enjoyable and unique. The Met Gala also enabled Ocean’s 8 to naturally enhance the impressive star power of the film with a few cameos. That extra glitz made the scene feel just as authentic as the franchise’s previous crime scenes.
Sandra Bullock is solid as Debbie Ocean, but the standout performance of the crew belongs to Cate Blanchett. She assumed the Brad Pitt persona from the previous film, including the bold wardrobe. It is a refreshing side of Blanchett that I am not used to seeing.
Despite the collective talent of Ocean’s crew, Hathaway nearly stole the movie out from under them. Daphne Kluger received the majority of the “little” scenes in the movie and Hathaway nailed each moment. Whether it was getting snippy with a personal assistant or being fawned over by a fashion designer, Daphne Kluger is one of the few characters who we really get to know in Ocean’s 8.
Hathaway’s performance inadvertently revealed a major flaw of Ocean’s 8: there is very little backstory or intra-character dialogue that makes the crew seem interesting. That is a disservice to the Ocean’s 8 cast.
Every member of the Ocean’s 11 gang had a small scene that allowed the audience to get to know them. Some of those “little” scenes turned out to be the most memorable ones. Sadly, there are only a few scenes of that ilk in Ocean’s 8. As Hathaway showed, the on-screen talent can flourish when given strong writing and character development.
Ocean’s 8 devoted too much time to James Corden, who has a role as an insurance investigator. Corden dominates the waning moments of the film, yet he is ultimately inconsequential to the story. If his scenes were traded for more Awkwafina or Mindy Kaling, Ocean’s 8 would have been a better movie.
The action of Ocean’s 8 was also rushed. This was a mistake by director Gary Ross. For movies like Ocean’s 8, less is not necessarily more. The pace caused the film to lack the element of suspense that is crucial for a heist movie.
In a Hollywood where remakes and sequels dominate the release schedule, Ocean’s 8 is ripe for replication. The box office success of Ocean’s 8 makes this a virtual certainty. I would love to see an Ocean’s 9 with the same cast but with a different director and screenplay to work with. With better material in place, this A-list cast has the potential to elevate a B-level flick into a special blockbuster.