I have said many, many times on this blog how much I enjoy heist movies. At the top of that list (and towards the top of my favorites of all time) is Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven. The all-star cast, led by the suave duo of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, create an adventure that is fun from start to finish. Creating a movie with the Ocean’s name requires several things: A cast of actors with great chemistry, one act to build the team, one to plan the heist, and one to perform the heist, flashy visuals, and a slow build up with an exciting payoff. Ocean’s Eight implements all of these requirements but not as smoothly as its predecessors.
The first thing I mentioned, a great cast with great chemistry, is what this movie got the most right of the four requirements for an Ocean’s movie. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, the Clooney and Pitt of this story, are a great pair, up there with Clooney and Pitt. They are just a ton of fun to watch together. They play off each other very well and carry themselves with the same swagger and suave attitude that their male counterparts did. As for the rest of the cast, I don’t feel like the gelled as well as the original eleven. Each one has their own memorable moment or two but I didn’t feel the camaraderie that was clear with Clooney’s group.
Ocean’s Eight also ticks the second and third requirements, following the same story structure as the other Ocean’s movies. In the first act, Ocean and their number 2 put together their team, introducing them in fun and interesting ways. Throughout the middle act, the newly assembled team plans the heist, jumping from member or a collection of members, to check in with what they are doing. During this time, we as the audience get glimpses into the plan, as well as *gasp* a plan within a plan by our Ocean, but never receive the full picture; Giving us enough information to think we have all the pieces despite the contrary. It does all this in a flashy and ostentatious manner. If you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven, then you’ll be familiar with how this is done.
Following the same format as Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Eight checks part A of the fourth requirement but part B is where this movies falls short. The story takes its time building the different elements and moving parts of the heist. Seeing this build up is my favorite part about heist about watching heist movies. However, when a movie takes its time leading into the heist, when the heist finally occurs, it comes with excitement and some sort of wow factor. I never felt that. There was no sense of urgency during the heist, no sense that our “heroes” might actually get caught (even though we know they won’t, it’s still more exciting to feel that they might). It kept building and building and then… the heist was over. I kept waiting for the movie to kick into high gear and give that moment that made the building worthwhile. That moment never came.
James Corden’s character, who has a dominant part in the trailers, doesn’t appear until after the heist. One thing this does allow the film to do is continue carrying that tension because it prolongs when we find out all the little details that form the ‘oh, shit’ moment that comes during the reveal. Even with that delay until the final reveal, much like Logan Lucky, it kills a lot of the momentum the film spent building up until this point.
I thought Ocean’s 8 was OK 😐 Carrying the Ocean’s name comes with a lot of weight and expectations. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t quite live up to its name. It ticks all the boxes of what is anticipated from a movie from this franchise: a well-oiled cast, an expected story structure, flashy visuals, and surprise twists, but overall it lacks any kind of flare or pizzaz that the franchise is known for. I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel because I’m hoping this franchise can only go up.
Cast & Crew
Gary Ross – Director / Screenplay / Story
Olivia Milch – Story
Daniel Pemberton – Composer
Sandra Bullock – Debbie Ocean
Cate Blanchett – Lou
Helena Bonham Carter – Rose Wiel
Mindy Kaling – Amita
Rihanna – Nine Ball
Awkwafina – Constance
Sarah Paulson – Tammy
Anne Hathaway – Daphne Kluger
Richard Armitage – Claude Becker
James Corden – John Frazier