Friday, July 6, 2018

Film Review: Ocean's 8

Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Mature

Doing a soft reboot of a popular franchise is difficult because comparisons to the original films are inevitable (see Ghostbusters 2016).  Even if the new movie is good, if it suffers by comparison, then it is less enjoyable.

Ocean's 8 is not nearly as good as Ocean's 11.  It is also not as good as Ocean's 13. 

Thankfully it is better than Ocean's 12.

The movie follows much of the same pattern as Ocean's 11.  Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has just been paroled from prison after being framed by her ex-boyfriend, artist Claude Becker (Richard Armitage).  She meets up with her old partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett), where she tells her about the heist plan: steal the Toussaint, a Cartier necklace valued at over $150 million dollars.  The plan is to get the celebrity Daphne Kluger (Anne Hatheway) to wear it to the annual Met Gala where it can be stolen.  To do this, Debbie and Lou assemble a crew: bankrupt fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), pick-pocket Constance (Awkwafina), and fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson).  By the way, if you do the math and something doesn't add up, you're not wrong.  What follows is your standard heist flick, with lots of intricate planning until the execution.

Director Gary Ross does a competent job of telling the story, but there are some fundamental script problems that he has trouble overcoming.

The first is the object of the heist.  Ocean's 11 and Ocean's 13 both did something essential to making us root for the thieves: they made the victim of the theft a villain.  In both of those movies, they made the mark so unlikeable, that it almost felt like justice that their fortunes were stolen.  In Ocean's 13, the mark is Cartier Jewelry, an actual company that does nothing wrong.  I know this is meant to be a fantasy of sorts, but I couldn't help thinking of all of the people's whose lives were ruined because of this heist from the Cartier employees, hosts of the gala, and the security detail, all of whom do nothing wrong.  Ocean's 13 was smart in making sure that any innocents injured in the heist were compensated.  Ocean's 8 casually walks over these problems.  Theft, by its very nature, is illegal and immoral.  Great care must be taken to bring the audience to the side of the thieves, and the movie does not take that time.

The second is a structural problem.


Most heist movies end very quickly after the job is done.  But Ocean's 8, lingers and deals with the aftermath.  While this does tie up some loose ends, it makes the movie feel overly long.  It tries to cover this by introducing the funny and charming insurance investigator John Frazier (James Corden).  But the addition of new story elements this late in the game feels odd.  It prevents the story from ending on the high note that it really should.


Finally, the movie cannot match the original in that illusive trait that it so much fun: coolness.

This has nothing to do with the fact that this heist gang is made of an all female cast.  Bullock and Blanchett have great chemistry.  If they had populated the rest of their gang with personalities at their level, it would have helped a lot.  But the rest of the gang doesn't help as much.  Bonham Carter does an excellent job of the overwhelmed designer and Rihanna does have an effortless swagger.  But Awkwafina always looks like she's trying way too hard.  Kaling's comedic skills are never utilized properly.   Paulson's character lacks all sense of cool. Hathaway turns in an incredibly shallow performance.  In this last case, the character is meant to be vapid, but she comes off much more caricature than character.  Regardless, this crew is just too much in the shadow of their predecessors.

Despite all of this, there are some nice moments.  The film is interesting enough to make you interested in the final outcome.  It does have a few nice twists as well.  Ross also adds some nice visual flourish and style, especially at the end of the gala, to draw your attention the entire time.

Ocean's 8 is a movie that will hold your interest while you watch it, but it will fade from memory quickly on the drive home.

image by Yasir72.multan

No comments:

Post a Comment