The whole affair of Danny Ocean assembling his friends for heists while hobnobbing at high society parties has always reeked of certain smugness, suggesting George Clooney’s thinly veiled effort to party with his friends in exotic locations and get paid for it. There’s certainly some fun to be had in watching charismatic actors play off of one another in a production assembled by mastermind Steven Soderbergh, but the movie’s sense of class doesn’t fully substitute for authentically compelling content even if it’s a harmless way to pass two hours.
“Ocean’s 8’s” full swapping of the genders of the roles carried out by its leads does change a few of the dynamics but the end result fall right in line with its male-led predecessors. Sandra Bullock portrays Debbie Ocean, Danny Ocean’s professional conwoman sister who seeks to reestablish her footing after a stint in prison by robbing the Met Gala with a team of women, taking advantage of high society’s perception of them as arm candy to pull off a job that nobody would be anticipating.
Despite falling in line with the pitfalls of its predecessor, the biggest sin of “Ocean’s 8” perhaps becomes most transparent upon realizing that director Gary Ross is no Steven Soderbergh by any stretch of the imagination. While the “Ocean’s Eleven” films may have been somewhat meaninglessly self indulgent, there was always, at the very least, a solid heist storyline running beneath the sense of style.
“Ocean’s 8’s” all-star cast comprised of Bulloch, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling, and Sarah Paulson, manages to play slightly richer characters with larger impact on the heist in question but their talent is ultimately handicapped by the material in the script being bad. The story wants to demand more out of them as characters but fails to allow them to build in meaningful character development. All of the focus in the movie is planted squarely on the heist itself ,which isn’t a feat to be taken lightly, but is presented as far more convoluted in planning than what ultimately plays out.
With the actresses starving for better content in an overly simplistic heist that doesn’t meet the payoff of its build up, “Ocean’s 8” falls into a debilitating set of pacing issues that it never manages to overcome, even as the epilogue to the heist manages to better deliver a tighter sense of style to close the movie out on despite boosting the running time by an unnecessary 15 minutes.
Even though “Ocean’s 8” is fairly shallow and mediocre, it isn’t without a fair bit of charm between its leads, and watching the heist play out may make it a diverting outing with a couple of friends. Personally, it just made me wish that the current progressions made in modern television happened about 16 years ago, where this franchise’s quirks could have been better suited to a fully developed TV series rather than a hollow gathering of names that seems to believe talent is a substitute for execution.
2 out of 5
Graduating from Texas A&M University—Commerce with a bachelor's degree in News and Editorial Journalism, Jordan Wright has lived most of his adult life professionally critiquing films, from major blockbusters to indie dramas, and has no intentions of stopping.