TRCH Soundstage

Film Review: Ocean's 8

2 July 18 words: Alicia Lansom

Gary Ross creates an easy-going and fun-loving heist movie, but it falls short in comparison to it’s sleek and stylish predecessors…

Director: Gary Ross

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway

Running time: 110 mins

When a new addition to the highly successful Ocean’s franchise was announced, it was clear that it was going to come under some scrutiny. Steven Soderbergh’s original trilogy featured slick storylines and a star-studded cast, solidifying the films as the blueprint for how ensemble movies are supposed to be done.

This meant that whoever was going to dust off the old martini glass was going to have to pull out a line up that could rival the star-power of the original cast. Its answer was to break the mould of the male-dominated heist films with an all-female revival featuring some of Hollywood’s most well-known faces. At the helm is Sandra Bullock, playing Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny (played by George Clooney in the original) who has spent the past five years planning her comeback after a stint in jail.

Back on the streets of New York, her sights are set on the Met Gala, the fanciest night in fashion, where she plans to rob a $150 million necklace with the help of a newly formed girl-gang. Her sidekick is Cate Blancett, playing her rocker best friend and long-time partner Lou. Together the pair then hires a jeweller (Mindy Kaling), a computer hacker (Rihanna) a pickpocket (Awkwafina), a dress designer (Helena Bonham Carter), and stay at home mum/smuggler (Sarah Paulson) to carry out their plan.

Once assembled, the crew of con-artists target actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) to wear the jewels to the annual event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Hosted by Vogue, the evening is the most high-profile event on the fashion calendar, meaning it has the security to match. But the individual skills of each of the thieves make for a smooth running operation, using a combination of talent, technology and tip-offs to weave their way behind the scenes at the ball.

The film was always going to be a tough one to get right

Bullock has the most screen time as the ringleader of the operation. Secretly she is running a job within a job, framing her art dealer ex-boyfriend who also happens to the whistleblower who landed her in prison. By being part of the Ocean’s dynasty Debbie is of course the most fleshed out character, with references to her families past and their shared criminal history. But the script fails to give the same level of dimension to its other lead characters, meaning they never really seem to find their groove as a group.

In comparison to its counterparts, the film lacks style and edge. The characters only encounter a few hiccups along the way, meaning that the storyline lacks suspense and is therefore somewhat uneventful for the audience. But it does have to be said that the film was always going to be a tough one to get right, spin-offs have so much pressure to perform that they can rarely bring up the goods to battle the classics we all know and love. Pair this with the misogynistic perception that female-led films don’t work, and and it was fighting a losing battle from the start.

Ocean’s 8 has all the star-power of the previous films, but none of the high-style direction that made the originals so successful. Its fun, it’s a crowd pleaser, and it’s chock full of celebrity cameos, but with no real threats to proceedings along the way, it wasn’t really anything more than an entertaining watch. 

Did you know? The eight main cast has won four Oscars, two Emmys, nine Grammys, six Golden Globes, five BAFTAs, and 10 SAGs combined.

Ocean's 8 is screening at Broadway Cinema until Thursday 5 July

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