Ocean’s 8

Posted: July 11, 2018 in Film reviews
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Directed by Gary Ross. Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter.

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Eventually the team would get down to planning the heist, after they watch Magic Mike one more time…

When Debbie Ocean (Bullock playing George Clooney’s character’s sister) is released from prison she wastes no time in putting into action a plan to steal a $150 million dollar Cartier necklace, a plan she’s been working on for five years to a point where she believes she’s worked out all of the kinks.

She ropes in her former partner Lou (Blanchett) and together they begin assembling a team, including a fashion designer with money troubles (Bonham Carter) a fence (Paulson) a computer hacker (Rihanna) a pickpocket (Awkwafina) and a jeweller (Mindy Kaling). Also integral to the plan as an unwitting dupe is ditzy actress Daphne Kluger (Hathaway).

The plan should go off without a hitch, but the involvement of insurance investigator John Frazier (James Corden) could pose trouble, and Lou worries that Debbie might be using the heist to get revenge on the man responsible for her incarceration, namely shady art dealer Claude Becker (Richard Armitage).

Will the gang get away with it, or will Debbie wind up back behind bars, along with her new accomplices?

 

When Steven Soderbergh made a modern version of the 60’s Rat Pack film Ocean’s 11, it’s debatable whether anyone thought it would lead to multiple sequels, but here we are with the fourth film in the franchise, albeit one with a completely new cast. The idea of an all gal heist flick might have put some backs up (for some reason) but I had no issue with it, in fact given I was always a bit lukewarm towards Ocean’s 11 anyway (If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know Soderbergh films often leave me cold) I was quite looking forward to it, and whilst Ocean’s 8 is far from perfect it’s a heck of a fun ride while it lasts.

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She’s a mistress of disguise!

The film’s main strength is in its casting. Bullock is a good lead, able to convince as a dowdy convict and as a glamourous jewel thief, and her role in pulling the team together is well handled. She sparks well with Blanchett (who’s one of those actors rarely less than brilliant) and together they make for a good partnership.

Helena Bonham Carter seems to be having a blast as the kooky, Irish accented fashion designer—although with Bonham Carter in some roles you can’t help feeling she may just be playing herself—and having seen her in several seasons of America Horror Story I know Paulson’s always good value, and she is again here as the fence turned suburban housewife (albeit with a suspiciously large eBay presence). Everyone gets their moment to shine, and this extends to the least famous members of the crew in Kaling and Awkwafina. In particular I really enjoyed Awkwafina’s dry wit. Really the weak link is probably Rihanna, although maybe that’s just down to a role that essentially requires her to just type a lot and on occasion smoke a huge blunt.

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You jammy bugger, Armitage!

Of course, I’m not forgetting the 8th, and unaware, member of the team, and much like Bonham Carter Hathaway seems to be having a huge amount of fun hamming it up as airhead Kluger, and on occasion she pretty much steals the movie.

There are the token guys as well. Armitage is solidly sleazy as Becker, and whilst never the greatest actor in the world, Corden isn’t remotely as terrible in an underwritten role as some have suggested.

The direction is slick and the soundtrack oozes cool. The sets and clothes add to the sense of style and glamour, but if the film falls down it’s in the script, or rather the plot. It’s not that it makes no sense, and there are some nice twists, but everything seems a bit effortless. There are obstacles that spring up in the team’s way, but none of them are remotely insurmountable and each one is resolved with ease. In many respects the film reminded me of the original TV show of Mission Impossible, where most weeks the elaborate scheme would go off without a hitch. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just wish Debbie and co had had to fight a little harder for their win because there’s never any real sense of jeopardy.

You can argue it’s style over substance, but when a film is this much fun who cares, not everything has to be deep and meaningful, and I for one would relish seeing Ocean’s 8 become Ocean’s 9, so long as they keep the cool, keep the humour and keep the cast: they just need to up the drama a bit.

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Please take care on the subway, it’s crawling with criminals.

 

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