"Ocean’s 8" (2018)- Movie Review

Written and Directed by Gary Ross
Co-written by Olivia Milch
                       Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway

‘A Fun Heist Flick’

When it comes to the most enjoyable heist films of all-time, “Ocean’s 11” is definitely one of them. Ever since it was first released in 2001, Steven Soderbergh’s iconic film set a high standard for the heist genre. With its star-studded cast, sharp dialogue and crackling atmosphere, the film offered undeniable entertainment. Yet, while the film was led by a predominantly male cast, it left little room for women to shine. What would happen if you switched these traditional gender roles? Would a heist film be as entertaining with a female-led cast?

Gary Ross’ latest film “Ocean’s 8” proves that having a female-led ensemble can work, but only to a certain degree. It’s a fun but forgettable reboot of the 2001 original hit. At a first glance, this female-led reboot seems to have all the elements of an entertaining heist film. It features a star-studded cast of talented actors, gorgeous visuals and a jazzy score. Yet, while the film has plenty of style, it falls short of the quality of the original. It lacks the compelling story of the original, and suffers from a predictable ending. That being said, it’s a fun heist flick that will satisfy movie-goers seeking female-driven entertainment this summer season.

Starring Sandra Bullock in the lead role, “Ocean’s 8” focuses on Debbie Ocean and her mission to pull off a heist. Debbie recruits a team of smart and talented women to pull off a heist at the yearly Met Gala in New York City. Her ambitious plan is to steal an expensive jewelry necklace from a famous celebrity. However, she soon realizes that pulling off this robbery isn’t going to be as easy as she thought.

Director Gary Ross appears to only care about style and less about telling a cohesive story. With “Ocean’s 8”, Ross has crafted a stylish crime-caper with plenty of visual aplomb but little substance. While the storytelling isn’t quite as smooth as the original, one can’t deny that the film is visually stunning. Visually, the film is sleek and stylish in the vein of the 2001 original hit. With gorgeous cinematography, director Gary Ross draws the viewer into the heist at the center of the film. The camerawork almost acts as a hook, capturing the viewer’s attention from the opening scene to the credits. Although it may not live up to the quality of its predecessor, from a visual standpoint “Ocean’s 8” is stunning and deserves to be seen on the big-screen.

Using these stunning visuals, director Gary Ross stages the most exciting heist sequence of the film. Although it does not occur until halfway through the movie, the heist proves to be one of the rare highlights of “Ocean’s 8”. With an eye for detail, Gary Ross stages an exciting heist that keeps the viewer at the edge of the seat. It’s a sequence that works tremendously due to the combination of gorgeous visuals and energetic music. Filmed with visual panache and style, the heist is one of the most entertaining scenes in the entire film. It is not easy to top the heist sequences of the original film, but “Ocean’s 8” comes quite close. It offers a highly entertaining heist sequence that is extremely well-executed.

It’s a shame, though, that once the heist sequence is over the film starts to lose steam. While director Gary Ross is an expert at staging a high-wire heist, he struggles to put together a cohesive story. The film follows beat-by-beat the same story of the original, which leaves little surprises in store for movie-goers. Although putting together a female crew of criminals is a refreshing premise, the film never makes the most out of it. The main issue is the screenplay, which lacks character development. Aside from the fact that they are played by well-known movie-stars, there is little reason to care about the characters. With such underdeveloped characters, it is up to the star-studded cast to carry the film on its shoulders.

The cast is at the top of its game and seems to be having a blast of fun. In the year’s most star-studded ensemble, every actress gets the chance to shine and leave a lasting impression.

Sandra Bullock is one of those actresses that livens up every film she is in, and “Ocean’s 8” is no exception. As criminal mastermind Debbie Ocean, Bullock delivers one of her most charismatic performances to date. Charming, charismatic and funny, she commands every scene she is in with confidence. With shady expressions, she captures the persona of a clever con artist determined to pull off a heist. Admittedly, it isn’t an award-worthy role and one can’t help but feel that Bullock has given better performances in her career. Nevertheless, it serves as a reminder that she is one of the finest actresses working in Hollywood today.

Among other standouts in the cast, Anne Hathaway is fabulous and steals nearly every scene she is in as a narcissistic celebrity. Cate Blanchett, known mostly for her serious dramatic work, shows a comedic side to her acting that we’ve never seen before. And finally, Helena Bonham Carter rounds off the impressive ensemble. As a quirky fashion designer, she brings hilarious comical relief and persona to the film.

Despite the terrific performances from the cast, ultimately “Ocean’s 8” is let down by a predictable ending. With the help of an energetic score, director Gary Ross keeps this crime-caper moving at an engaging pace but chooses to end it on an ordinary, familiar note. Arguably, this is where the film falls short of its predecessor. The original “Ocean’s 11” had quite a few twists and turns, and was anything but predictable. Sadly, that element of surprise is missing from “Ocean’s 8”. From the moment the film begins, you immediately know how it is going to end.

In the end, I enjoyed “Ocean’s 8” but much less than I hoped or wanted to. It’s a fun but flawed film that doesn’t quite live up to the original in terms of quality. Nevertheless, in an industry in which female-driven films are a rarity it is refreshing to see a film that gives women the chance to shine. And for that reason alone, this crime-caper is worth a watch.

3/5 stars

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