All female reboots/remakes have become one of the most talked about hot-button issues in Hollywood today. The call for more diversity in film has led to some amazing projects while others (Star Wars pushing for more female representation) has been met with a more mixed reaction. Personally, I would rather women and people of color receive film projects that are not a rehash of the past. That being said, whenever there is an announcement of an all-female version of a film, I remain cautiously optimistic as in the case of Ghostbusters where it did not really work out. This brings us to Ocean’s 8, a film that — while earning more positive buzz thanks to its cast — was still looked at as a bad attempt to bring women to the forefront of acting. All that being said, I can confidently report that though it is not a perfect film, Ocean’s 8 is a fun, heist-romp that will leave wanting more based on cast performances alone.
Five years, eight months, 12 days and counting — that’s how long Debbie Ocean (the estranged sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean) has been developing the biggest heist of her life. She knows what it is going to take — a team of the best people in the field, starting with her partner-in-crime Lou Miller. Together, they recruit a crew of specialists, including jeweler Amita, street con Constance, suburban mom Tammy, hacker Nine Ball, and fashion designer Rose. Their target is the Met Gala, where a necklace that’s worth more than $150 million is within their grasp.
By far, the strongest aspect Ocean’s 8 has going for it is the fact that it does not try to function as a remake or reboot. The film itself is in fact a sequel to the original Ocean’s trilogy but even then it acts as the beginning of its own franchise. The film opts to move away from Las Vegas, instead choosing to deal with New York’s Met Gala and superbly incorporate all five major boroughs of the state. Director and co-writer Gary Ross, along with his writing partner Oliva Milch, made no real effort to tie this film back to its predecessors, allowing Easter eggs and surprises to stand out more than expected. Ross and Milch shoot for a “less is more” approach as there are only a handful of passing references to Danny Ocean and his crew to remind you of the universe your currently watching.
Unsurprisingly, Ocean’s 8 manages to erase the stigma of “all-female” remakes as it takes the concept and renders it irrelevant. While the Ghostbusters remake was put through the ringer (rather unfairly in my opinion), this film opts to further the story and take the heist concept – a genre dominated by men throughout cinematic history – and simply have women lead the charge. In this way the film thrives in portraying the idea that, as long as one has the right skills, anybody can perform a heist of this caliber. It may not be the most original story, but the film is a fun, breezy sequel that proves the Ocean family was always destined for lives of crime.
The new team flourishes on screen with almost every character getting their moment in the spotlight. The strongest performances come from Anne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger and Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean. Hathaway absolutely knocks it out of the park as the film’s target as she plays the dramatic and elitist Kluger so perfectly while also earning some unexpected empathy from the audience. Bullock is terrific as the leader of the team of thieves as she is funny, tough and, by all accounts, just as smart or even smarter than her big brother Danny as she leads this team to riches they have only previously known in dreams. Cate Blanchett stars as Ocean’s partner in crime Lou and she is a tough, no-nonsense criminal who plays off Bullock’s fast-talking Debbie so well. One thing the film could have improved on however is explaining more about their relationship, as it was one of the most interesting aspects never touched on after a few discussions. This however can easily happen in a sequel should this film become commercially successful.
The rest of the cast takes a slight back seat to the ladies listed above but that does not mean they are not great in their own rights. Rhianna, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina, and Mindy Kaling all provide various skills and quirks throughout the film that make the heist more exciting to watch. With this crew, Ocean’s 8 will keep you laughing for hours and cheering for its cast of icons.
With a cast this great, it is hard to find criticisms, but one glaring fault unfortunately comes from the film’s main antagonist, played by Richard Armitage. Where Ocean’s 8 suffers is that there is not a ruthless, formidable villain like Andy Garcia from Ocean’s 11. Whenever Garcia appeared on screen, you felt as if the team was in a real sense of danger and suspense as Garcia proved be a real threat to their plan. Armitage, who plays Debbie’s ex-lover and the reason she ended up in prison, is a dim-witted, poorly written character that is easily dismissed and never seems to be an actual threat. As most of film’s run time was spent on the team, it is not surprising to see Ocean’s 8 falter with its rather weak villain. This is not a knock on Armitage’s performance but his character definitely needed to be fleshed out more.
Additionally, the film does feel formulaic. The heist genre is one that has been tried and tried again and the film does tread on familiar waters in comparison to Ocean’s 11 heist. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that director Gary Ross went for a safe approach with this first film in an attempt to reintroduce viewers to the Ocean’s universe. Still, the film does share a lot of similarities with the previous films plans` of the franchise but again, should there be a sequel, they can build off the blueprint and set up an even better feature.
Ocean’s 8 is a light, entertaining film that, while rehashing story beats of the past, leaves the door open for future, more enthralling adventures. The cast is incredible, the cinematography is beautiful and Daniel Pemberton once again delivers a wonderful score. With Gary Ross’ direction, this film marks the potential start of a great new franchise that is not bogged down by the notion that “all-female” sequels/remakes/ reboots do not work. It moves away from the films that came before it and is able to stand on its own as a criminally fun heist feature that will, above anything else, have you counting down the days until you get to see this cast on screen together again.
Rating – 7/10
What did you think of Ocean’s 8? Let us know in the comments down below!