Dan's Review: "Ocean's 8" enjoyable, if not very clever
Jun 09, 2018 01:24PM
● By Dan Metcalf
Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, and Awkwafina in Ocean's 8 - © 2018 Warner Bros.
Ocean’s 8 (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG-13 for language, drug use, and some suggestive content.
Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Armitage, James Corden, Dakota Fanning, Elliott Gould and Shaobo Qin.
Written by Gary Ross and Olivia Milch, based on characters by George Clayton Johnson and Jack Golden Russell.
Directed by Gary Ross.
When a movie is successful, the joy of its experience usually lasts only as long as it takes to create a sequel or ensuing franchise. Sometimes the sequel or franchise works out just fine, providing years of enjoyment and safe, formulaic entertainment for devoted fans. Most of the time, such franchises simply dilute the entertainment value of the original, dragging out the inevitable rejection of the masses, and several very forgettable sequels. Sometimes the sequel/franchise takes a break and rejuvenates whenever a studio genius awakens to the idea that they can squeeze <one more> round out of it. Hence, we have “reboots” which is why Ocean’s 8 is gracing the movie screens this weekend, eleven years to the day that the third film in the Steven Soderbergh’s reboot/remake of the original 1960 Ocean’s 11 film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr, Peter Lawford, etc. (aka “Rat Pack) was released. In entertainment lingo, the repurposing of content is called “The Parsimony Principle,” and the “Ocean’s” heist films have proven it can be done over several decades. This time around, It’s a “ladies’ only” affair, starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson and Awkwafina in the main roles, pared down from eleven to eight players in the game.
Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, the estranged kid sister of Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney in the Soderbergh series), now presumed dead. After spending more than 5 years in prison after being framed by her artist/boyfriend Claude (Richard Armitage), Debbie emerges with a plan to pull off one of the biggest heists in New York. Her idea is to steal the most expensive diamond necklace ever created during the annual Met Gala. The caper is planned to happen while the necklace is being worn by A-list celebrity Daphne Kluger (Hathaway) during the gala. Debbie recruits a few friends to the scheme, and a few newcomers. Among the team are Debbie’s old crime partner Lou (Blanchett), Amita (Mindy Kaling), a jeweler, tech specialist “9-Ball” (Rihanna), fashion designer Rose (Bonham-Carter), Tammy (Paulson), an suburban mom and “fencer” of stolen goods, and pickpocket artist Constance (Awkwafina). If you’re doing the math that’s only seven team members but don’t worry, the eighth player will emerge. As an added bonus, Debbie is also scheming to get sweet revenge on Claude by framing him for the crime.
The heist goes off (mostly) as planned which results in an investigation by an insurance detective named Frazier (James Corden), who has things pretty much figured out – or does he?
Ocean’s 8 is buoyed by a great cast of characters in the true spirit of collaborative ensemble caper films that inspired the movie. If I had to single out one actor, it would be Hathaway, who plays the ditsy (or is she?) celebrity foil to great comedic form. The heist itself is not as clever as one would imagine, relying on a 3D printer and a few gobbledygook computer end-arounds to fill in the logistic gaps in reality. At no point do you ever think that the main characters will ever get caught, which also diminishes the tension. Even so, it’s enough fun to keep your interest. I don’t know if there’s enough traction to warrant an Ocean’s 9 or 10. It wouldn’t be the worst idea, but the fact that there are epilogue scenes of “happily ever after” for all the main characters makes it a good place to stop.
Forget restraint. We all know by now that Hollywood doesn’t know when to stop, just like the criminal who always thinks there’s always one more “big” score out there.
Ocean's 8 Trailer