The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - OCEAN’S 8 | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - OCEAN’S 8

ocean's 8 review
Danny Ocean's sister assembles a team of expert criminals to pull of a heist at the Met Gala.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Gary Ross

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, James Corden

ocean's 8 poster

When it comes to remakes, they don’t come much more popular than Ocean's Eleven. Steven Soderbergh's 2001 all-star blockbuster caper was a huge hit upon its release; the majority of audiences unaware that the story of cons coming together for One Big Job ™ was originally a Rat Pack vehicle back in the '60s with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin trading quips and robbing the rich. Such was its success that it spawned two sequels: the bizarrely meta throw-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-at-the-screen-and-see-what-happens Ocean's Twelve, and the less-than-needed-but-better-than-its-predecessor Ocean's Thirteen.

Now we are treated to Ocean's 8, a new story from the ‘Ocean's’ universe. All the required elements are there - large star cast (though now just eight of them), the ‘impossible’ heist, some smooth jazz on the soundtrack and beautiful people being coolly suave.

ocean's 8 review

Sandra Bullock
plays Debbie Ocean, the sister of apparently dear departed Danny (George Clooney, whose portrait decorates her bathroom in a key scene). Fresh out of prison, she sets about gathering her team of experts-in-their-criminal-fields to rob the Annual Met Gala; or, more specifically, one diamond necklace they will be targeting for robbery once they can manage to get it to the event.

It’s a simple plot, and its pleasures lay in the disparate types coming together, the working out of the future con, and the actual achieving of the heist.

As written and directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games), the screenplay itself allows for these pleasures to be had but there are some missteps.

While it seems a lot of time is dedicated to exploring the rather thin character of Debbie Ocean, some other characters who are arguably far more intriguing get short shrift when it comes to characterisation and backstory. Helena Bonham Carter’s Rose, for instance, is well defined and we feel we know her and her motivations; compare that to the distinct lack of backstory given to Cate Blanchett’s Lou or Sarah Paulson’s Tammy, two characters I would have loved to spend more time with.

Because of its lean towards more realism, the heist itself feels somewhat anticlimactic, particularly given how quickly it is wrapped up.

ocean's 8 review

However, this means that the last 15 minutes are spent with the delightful James Corden as insurance investigator John Frazier. His character is refreshingly not the inept buffoon we may have expected but instead a skilled detective who enjoys parrying with Miss Ocean, with whom he has had previous dealings.

I’m not entirely sold on the subplot of revenge as it smacks of the out-dated and frankly sexist ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ assumption. It is also hard to feel any real satisfaction in the getting of revenge when the audience was not witness to the acts that caused the need for revenge in the first place. The time and energy spent on this subplot would have been better served in fleshing out ALL the characters and not just a few.

Blanchett shows a new side here to her usual ice-queen perfection, and I greatly enjoyed seeing her play the casually hip and androgynous Lou - she essentially stole every scene she was in and the film was noticeably wanting when she was off-screen. Bullock is perfectly fine in her leader role but the character lacks edges and texture; Rihanna does good work with her tech-wiz Nine Ball; and Bonham-Carter is a delight as a damaged fashion designer.

ocean's 8 review

Daphne the airhead actress would be a difficult role for anyone to play sympathetically and believably, but Anne Hathaway does a commendable job of achieving just that.

Unfortunately Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina and especially the ever-excellent Paulson are mainly wasted here.

I also take issue with Debbie having to explain why there were no males in her team; after all I don’t recall this ‘single sex’ question being asked of Clooney. Could it not just be that, gasp, these particular women are the best in their areas of expertise?

Ultimately not quite the sexy, cool, full-blooded kick ass heist movie I had expected and wanted; but lots of fun, and very far from a fail.

An enjoyable but forgettable frothy delight.

Ocean's 8 is on Netflix UK now.