Movie Review: Ocean’s Eight

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Angie Dickinson starred in the original Ocean’s 11 in 1960. Clustered with five members of the rat pack, the film served as the inspiration for Steven Soderbergh’s heist series remake Ocean’s 11, which was followed by Ocean’s 12 and drum roll… Ocean’s 13. Realising that Ocean’s 14 would start to look like the call sheet for Avengers: Infinity War and probably due to waning interest they stopped there.

 Now some years later, with George Clooney doing Nespresso ads and Brad Pitt suffering another divorce, it’s been deemed necessary or more likely profitable for a reboot. Following in the tradition of the so-so Ghostbusters remake, Ocean’s 8… which leaves the possibility of an Ocean’s 9 and Ocean’s 10, features an all-female cast. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and Helena Bonham Carter lead the charge making this a girls-only overhaul of the boys club. Instead of the Clooney–Pitt duo, we have a Bullock-Blanchett pairing, who make an equally formidable team… with shades of Absolutely Fabulous.

Bullock is the smooth operator, confidence trickster and team leader, who pulls the strings as Danny’s sister, Debbie. Blanchett is Lou, a tough, no-nonsense woman who recalls The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Brad Pitt through her affinity with her motorbike. Hathaway plays a send up of herself as celebrity, Daphne Kluger, who you have to wonder is a playful elbow jab at Diane Kruger?

In this version, it’s Debbie Ocean who gathers a crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly and exclusive Met Gala. Gary Ross who wrote and directed Seabiscuit, The Free State of Jones and The Hunger Games takes the director’s chair, although you almost feel that the other Gary… F. Gary Gray of The Italian Job remake may have been a better fit.

 “I haven’t boarded a bus since 1994, darl.”

While enjoyable, the film is all smoke and mirrors, forcing you to leave your detective hat at home. Ross is able to get sparkling performances and good chemistry from his cast, although there’s a clunkiness to proceedings as a series of contrived turns struggle to glue it all together. There are many over-extended moments that feel too manipulated, and while the film is mostly geared towards camaraderie, the execution just seems a little bit too free-flowing without much in the way of suspense.

Sleek, elegant and amusing at times, Oceans 8 is just as glitzy, lightweight and fun as the original series. Forming the team, giving them a chance to suss each other out and then following through with a meticulous scheme is all part of the fun for this accomplished cast. It’s fun to see an all-female cast, despite being somewhat undercut by its “a woman scorned” plot. You’d hope that playing the all-female cast it wouldn’t necessarily hinge on a man, but it seems there’s always some latent schadenfreude in carrying out a revenge-fueled agenda. Staging the heist at an art gallery like the Met certainly changes the environment – a refresh on the casino scene.

The screenplay could have used more testing, but is bubbly and easy-going enough to forgive, allowing the star power, spirit and mischief to play out. Ocean’s 8 is not quite as charming or smooth as Steven Soderbergh’s effort, but checks in with its head held high, landing more in the realm of The Italian Job remake. The film could’ve used more time in development, given the team some more time to storm among themselves and made the hurdles a bit more challenging… but it’s fun to see such a stellar cast making a go of it.

The bottom line: Amusing