Ocean’s 8: A Diamond in the Reboots

Ocean’s Eight (2018)

Director – Gary Ross

Writer –  Gary Ross

Starring – Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway,  Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna

Rating – PG-13

Genre – Action, Comedy

Metascore – 61/100

Rotten Tomatoes – 69%

If Ocean’s 11 (2001) sets the standard for star-studded heist movies, then Ocean’s 8 comes closer than most.

The cast delivers suave, composed performances, ultimately leaving me with a desire to see them re-assembled in the near future. Humorous dialogue and homely settings led to a pleasant viewing experience. Proper pacing kept the film moving toward its climax — including a trifecta of surprises in the falling action.

A collection of actresses worthy of their own lead roles, the group of eight are smart, cool, and intriguing. Sandra Bullock reminded me of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, but in a good way. Cate Blanchett rocked a stone cold performance as Ocean’s best friend: the coolest, most enigmatic character, Lou. Altogether, the rest of the cast stood out for various positive reasons — be it the domesticated Sarah Paulson’s Tammy, the hermit Rihanna’s Nine-Ball, or Mindy Kaling’s searching for love in all the wrong places Amita. As a result of cast chemistry and cohesion, they make a unique team capable of pulling off a heist at the world’s most exclusive event.

However, with such a quality cast, Ocean’s 8 runs into a couple problems: dividing character screen-time appropriately and giving dimensions to each. The most glaring issue with the former was the treatment of Helen Bonham Carter’s Rose Weil. Act I provides her a significant role, which she nails with her classic charm. However, by the latter half of the movie, she is relegated to a bystander. For the latter problem, Awkwafina’s Constance and Richard Armitage’s Claude Becker are both flat — albeit Constance is rather funny. A couple minor changes, like more nuanced dialogue or self-directed action, could have lifted these characters to the same level as the rest.

Beginning with character introductions that were clear and comedic and concluding with an emotional homage, the final product generally succeeds. Most transitions were acceptable, with one or two being superb but another couple visually jarring. The film placed cameos with care, whether for the purpose of delivering an emotional beat or comedic relief. There were a couple issues; namely, while the little conflicts spread throughout the film felt legitimate, some of the solutions were almost too convenient. In fact, you might find yourself later pulling cold leftovers from the fridge and say, “Wait a second…”

In the midst of Hollywood’s plethora of reboots, Ocean’s 8 could have pressed into its source material, relying on nods or tropes from earlier entries to carry it along. Equally so, it could have pointed to its gender-bentness as a claim to the necessity of itself. Instead, Ocean’s 8 stands as its own story albeit in a familiar world. One need not have seen the earlier movies to understand jokes or plot points. Of course, knowing the Ocean’s universe — at the very least, Ocean’s 11 — serves as a great entry into this new (hopefully) series. Ocean’s 8 is a delightful heist that I’ll be going back to again.

Author: Matt Welborn

499 rating: 7 / 10