Ocean’s 8 isn’t a bad movie, but for all the talent attached, it’s definitely a film that’s lacking the charisma and spark of its 2001 counterpart, Ocean’s 11. This has nothing to do with the fact that it’s an all-female cast and more to do with the rather bland script and weak characters within it. Ocean’s 11 was funny, intriguing, kept you guessing and pulled you in with its charming characters. Unfortunately, Ocean’s 8 misses almost all of these targets, and while the final product isn’t boring, it’s just not overly entertaining or something you’ll think about at all once it’s over.
The film stars Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, the sister of Dannie Ocean (George Clooney’s character from Ocean’s 11,) who also fell into the family business of being a criminal. The movie begins with Debbie being released from prison after serving a five-year sentence thanks to being framed by her ex-boyfriend, Claude (Richard Armitage.) Immediately upon getting out, Debbie reaches out to her former partner in petty crime, Lou (Cate Blanchett) in order to put a team together for a heist she’s been planning during her five years behind bars. The heist? To steal a $150 million diamond necklace from the Met Gala a few weeks from the day.
Right out of the gate the pacing of the film Is a lot slower than it feels it should be with all the flashy scene transitions that throwback to the style of the previous films in the franchise. The dialogue tries to be snappy, but it just isn’t. A lot of the jokes fall flat or simply don’t feel natural within the conversations. At one point Debbie is trying to recruit her old friend Tammy (Sarah Paulson,) who has a garage full of juicers, workout equipment and electronics that Tammy apparently can’t help but steal from delivery trucks and the likes. When Debbie asks Tammy how she explains all these goods piled up to the roof to her husband Tammy simply responds, “Ebay.” That’s the payoff to the setup, and not only is it simply not funny, it makes her husband seem completely distant to the point that he doesn’t even care, or a complete fool who just accepts that his wife is spending loads of money on twenty of the same blenders.
That’s the direction most of the jokes take throughout the film, as they just lack the witty punch that keeps you laughing, and a smile on your face even when you’re not. Now, saying that the jokes are mostly flat doesn’t negate from the fact that there are some very talented actresses involved in the movie and it’s their skills alone that are what keep things remotely interesting. They believe in the story they’re trying to tell and it shows, and because of that, once we get to the actual heist in the film we’re at least engaged enough to see how it unfolds.
Another issue with the script is just how easy things come together for the team time and time again. With heist films like this the protagonists are supposed to have be cool as cucumbers with everything on track right up until they find out that something has changed along the way that messes up their original plans and forces them to regroup and recalibrate enough to make sure the plan still goes through without a hitch – or at least make the audience believe that they lost their cool momentarily while trying to get back in control. In Ocean’s 8, the couple of times this happens it feels like things just get solved so easily. There’s one major speed-bump that should’ve thrown the team for a curveball and helped show the audience how they can think on their feet; but instead, all they did was make one quick phone call and crisis averted. This entire scenario – which could have added a fun extra layer to the heist – was basically done just so the group could pointlessly find out the real name of one of their teammates who goes by the name Nine Ball (Rihanna.)
Then there’s the team chemistry, in that there isn’t really any. They all get along fine and there’s nothing wrong with their acting, but unlike Clooney and Pitt – who felt like long-time friends in the game – Bullock and Blanchett just don’t feel like they have the close friendship that the script wants us to believe they have. The story also doesn’t try to give any of the characters any real depth or build on any of the relationships either, which leaves the entire dynamic feeling somewhat empty. Each person comes off like they’re simply playing a part just so the story can get from point A to point B with a few missed jokes along the way.
As a whole I feel like Ocean’s 8 was a missed opportunity. These are an extremely talented group of actresses that deserved a better script than what was given to them. While I don’t regret watching the movie, it’s just not something that I’ll think back upon with fond memories – or at all – unlike the previous installments in the franchise. The heist itself is fine, but it lacks the suspense it should be filled with at that point in the movie because of how easy things have gone for the group leading into it. It’s missing true stakes to make the viewer believe that things may just not go the way everyone planned.
Ocean’s 8 comes off feeling like it was made just so they could do an all-female Ocean’s movie instead of attempting to make a quality sequel/spinoff that also happened to have females in all the leading roles. Fans of the franchise will likely want to see this just to see how it holds up, those who enjoy a good heist movie may also not be able to resist the temptation of seeing what these ladies have to offer; while others may want to check it out simply because they’re a fan of some of the actresses involved. Whatever the reason may be, whether you enjoy it or not will likely be on a case by case basis, as this isn’t a particularly bad movie, it’s just not a very good one either.
The movie has a great visual look to it, and the transitions from scene to scene that stylistically match the rest of the franchise look great in 4K. This isn’t a movie that needs to be seen in 4K, but if you’re a fan and you want the 4K experience then the transfer delivers the goods. There’s plenty of fashion throughout the heist and details within the Met Gala that look fantastic in 4K, so if the option is available, that’s the way to go. If not though, the Blu-ray looks quite sharp and those who view it that way will still have a great visual experience.
As far as audio goes, the music and score is lively and hits the beats even when the jokes often miss them. The dialogue is clear and clean and never battles against the music of sound effects and the surround sound comes through nicely.
Reimagining The Met Gala – This feature is just under 13 minutes long and focuses on how the production contacted the Met and made connections so that they could film there, causing the Met to almost became a character in the movie itself. It’s an interesting feature when you get to see some of the setups take place, with cameras and equipment all placed around these irreplaceable pieces of art.
A Heist in Heels – This piece comes in at just under 12 minutes and focuses on the cast and crew talking about making the new film to showcase women and fashion, but trying to stay true to the previous films.
Ocean’s Team 3.0 – This feature comes in at just over 13 minutes and sees the cast crew talk about each of the leading ladies, what sets their characters apart, and what each bring to the film.
Deleted Scenes – There are two deleted scenes that are best left unwatched. I watched the first, it’s only a minute or so long and yet it added nothing but a minute to the movie and was wisely cut.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Presents Ocean’s 8. Directed by: Gary Ross. Written by: Gary Ross, Olivia Milch. Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Midori Francis, Sarah Poulson. Running time: 110 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: Sept. 11, 2018.