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Review: Ocean’s 8

Roslyn Hull

Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny Ocean, gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala. IMDb

There are so many good things about this film it makes me a little sad that the result does not sparkle in the way that it could have. This is damning with faint praise though as it is still a very watchable ‘caper’ movie and represents that genre reasonably well.

But.

The main cast is stellar. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett—(seriously)—Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson—(yes, them too)—Rihanna—(!)—Helena Bonham Carter and Awkwafina—(Who? Trust me, she’s amazing)—are all stars, and together the screen should have spontaneously combusted with their fabulousness.

The cameos had me telling my own self to ‘shut up’ or ‘get out of here’. La Wintour, most of the Kardashians, designers aplenty, models and celebrities. Heidi Klum’s moment with a fluently German-speaking Sandra Bullock is a comedic gem in a film that should have been so much funnier.

And more great actresses—Dakota Fanning has a few scenes as a rival star to Anne Hathaway and four great character players (including Marlo Thomas and Elizabeth Ashley) get moments in the sun too.

The combined members of the main, non-cameo cast have won four Oscars, two Emmys, nine Grammys, six Golden Globes, five BAFTAs, and 10 SAGs.

So why aren’t I ranting about how good this is?

Director Gary Ross worked as a second unit director for Steven Soderbergh on some of the previous films but his helming is workmanlike at best and turgid at worst. There are no quick cuts or little asides, the only reminder of the signature style of these films is the split screen and the delicious costumes.

Sandra Bullock’s character never smiles. She is organised, having gone over this heist for years whilst in gaol, she is masterly in her choice of crew and job—but she just isn’t enjoying herself. It is almost like the whole cast had anything giggly or girly removed from their scenes. Mindy Kaling is as serious as a heart attack. It’s not right.

The heart in the mouth moments aren’t there either—part of the fun of a heist film is when you think they will get caught and they pull a rabbit out of a hat. There are 1.5 rabbits that almost saved the film—but not quite.

The editing and continuity are horrible. There is a scene where they are all riding a train and thinking about what they will do with the fortune. How did they get on the train? Why are they there? Where are they going, all together? Makes. No. Sense.

However, in the end, it is worth watching just to see all these actresses onscreen together. Bechdel test—100% score—except that we discover Sandy is out for revenge on the man that sent her to gaol (the dishy Richard Armitage). I was disappointed—walk away girl, walk away.

See it for Cate Blanchett too—her character is androgynous, channels the lead singer from Cheap Trick in style and loves motorbikes. The others are good but her character is the only one that smacks of vintage ‘Ocean’.

Feature image: facebook.com/oceans8movie

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Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author