OCEANS 8 – SISTERS DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES

Big apologies for our delay in releasing this review – it’s my birthday week and I took five days off to go to Melbourne, drink cocktails and eat more food than an elephant. Kernel John reviewed this one for the team and liked it a lot more than I presumed he would. Following his review I’m going to have to check this one out now. It is out now from the fine folks at Warners Bros/ Roadshow. OCEAN’S 8 is rated M and runs for 110mins. Enjoy John’s review………..all the best………Salty. 

BY :

The numerically challenged fourth instalment of the Ocean’s franchise, OCEAN’S 8, follows Danny Ocean’s sister, Debbie (GRAVITY), and her ragtag bunch of all female misfits as they attempt to pull off the caper of the century.  Directed by Gary Ross (THE HUNGER GAMES), OCEAN’S 8 is an enjoyable and comedic heist film with a strong female cast that is sure to please.

 

Oceans 8 Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett image
Sandra Bullock and

 

WAIT? WHAT? DANNY HAS A SISTER?

What better way to revive a franchise than with a heretofore never mentioned, long lost, also a criminal, estranged sister!  Hooray for convenience!  After five years in prison, Debbie is finally released by a parole board more gullible than the British populace believing Brexit was a good idea.  Wasting no time at all returning to her grifting ways, Debbie reaches out to her partner in crime Lou (Cate Blanchett – THOR: RAGNAROK), with a most audacious robbery plan.  The New York Metropolitan Museum of Arts (Met) is hosting its annual fundraising gala, with the who’s who of celebrities in attendance, including the ditsy Daphne Kluger (THE INTERN).  Seen as an easy mark to manipulate, Debbie intends to orchestrate events to place Cartier’s premier piece of jewellery, the Toussaint, around Daphne’s neck, and then promptly steal it during the hubbub of the occasion.

But of course, there are diamonds to replicate, security systems to hack, things to steal, identities to create, people to manipulate, and so much more!  To pull this off, Debbie needs a team of likeminded individuals.  Avengers, assemb…  Wait, wrong film.  Femme fatales, assemble!  Enter the rest of the criminal cast, including , , , and Nora “Awkwafina” Lum.  Joined together in common greed, and fuelled by that ever glorious Ocean family subterfuge and charm, that necklace does not stand a chance.

 

Ocean's 8 Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter image
Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter

 

AH, SMELL THAT SWEET OCEAN’ STYLE AND FLAIR:

The form and substance of this film is incredibly similar to that of the original trilogy.  Not just the storyline, but the cinematography, design and scene transitions all mimic the previous OCEAN’S.  Even the film’s score has that same sort of pace and rhythm to it, with it all blending together in such a brilliant way that long-time fans will instinctively recognise this film having never seen it before.

The acting is likewise just as fabulous.  OCEAN’S 8 stars multiple Academy Award winners, and their skill help to elevate this movie.  Though the ensemble nature necessitates split screen time, the film does a lovely job of making each cast member’s role clear and purposeful.  That said, most of the movie follows the actions of its biggest names, Bullock, Blanchett, Hathaway and Bonham Carter, with special mention going to Hathaway for her wonderful portrayal of the vacuous Daphne.

There are also an incredible number of cameos in the film.  The Met Gala is a genuine event and fashion’s night of nights, often frequented by A-list celebrities, of which the film takes full advantage.  Cameos include Anna Wintour, Katie Holmes, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian and Zayn Malik, just to name a few.

 

Ocean's 8 Sarah Paulson, Sandra Bullock and Rihanna image
Sarah Paulson, Sandra Bullock and Rihanna

 

NUMBERS ARE HARD:

The above aside, there are some differences worth noting.  Audience members acquainted with the Ocean’s films understand the naming conventions when it comes the movie titles.  OCEAN’S ELEVEN was first, had eleven thieves and its name ended in a one.  The OCEAN’S TWELVE was second, had twelve thieves, ended in a two (see what they did there), while OCEAN’S THIRTEEN, you guessed it, thirteen thieves, conveniently labelled with a three.

OCEAN’S 8 stands alone though, not only with its difference in title styling (using the literal digit instead of the word), but also in its lack of sequentiality.  It is meant to indicate to us all the departure from the established franchise, most notably in its 2016 GHOSTBUSTERS-esque all female ensemble.  With that in mind, the film comes across a little confused.  It is trying to be different, a spinoff more than a sequel, yet it borrows so heavily from the themes of its predecessors that its individuality gets a little lost.  Debbie’s portrayal makes her an obvious Danny, the one with the ideas and all the angles covered, while Lou is clearly Rusty, great in the planning and with a little black book of criminals.

A LITTLE TOO FORMULAIC:

However the chemistry between the stars is nowhere near the same level as that of the originals, neither is there that rich, never explained character backstory, such as that almost coded banter between Danny and Rusty.  OCEAN’S 8 is different, but it is also not, and just seemed a little unbalanced on the whole.  It also did not help that from a thief count perspective, the film was more literally an “Ocean’s 7” for the vast majority, “Ocean’s 8” for a handful of minutes, then finished as an “Ocean’s 9.”

Also, the con itself is near flawless in its execution.  There is no real complication to the narrative, and everyone seems to know it.  The attitude of the crooks is almost blasé, despite the audaciousness of the plan, never really adding any true suspense or excitement to the film.  As such, I never really thought that they would fail either, making the film a little formulaic.

 

Ocean's 8 Cast on a Train image
Ocean’s 8 – Cast on a Train

 

IN CONCLUSION:

Taken on its own, OCEAN’S 8 is a fun and enjoyable film with a stellar cast, even if it is a little light on substance.  However, when measured against the Ocean’s franchise whose title this film bears, OCEAN’S 8 is not quite as polished as it could be.  That said, I would still happily recommend this movie for its great female line up and easy watching nature.

 

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

A lifelong lover of the silver screen, Kernel John strives to engage and entertain his audience through the shameless use of humour in his reviews, even when it probably isn’t warranted. When not musing for Salty, you can often find John bouncing between his extreme states of either puppy watching down by the beach, or reflecting on the deepest mysteries of the Universe.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.