Ocean’s 8 pulls off the ultimate con – it keeps you entertained while taking your hard-earned money.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
After smart-talking her way out of prison, kleptomaniac Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) – estranged sister of notorious con artist Danny Ocean – takes inspiration from her brother to pull off an elaborate heist with a hefty reward. Reuniting with her old partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett), the pair recruit an all-female dream team and plot to steal an extremely valuable necklace right out from under everyone’s noses at the annual Met Ball.
Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief! We’ve made it to the release of the gender-swapped revamp of Ocean’s 11 without going down the road of a Ghostbusters nightmare. Directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games), Ocean’s 8 remains respectful to its roots, while mostly standing on its own two feet. It packs in a plethora of Oscar-winning talent and manages to be entertaining enough to justify its own existence. It may be flawed and unnecessary, but at least the focus is on being a decent flick, instead of holding a middle finger to fans of the original.
In terms of structure and style, 8 follows 11 beat for beat, with the same slick recruitment, heist setup and tricksy execution overlayed with smooth jazz and playful camera transitions. This could leave it derided as a lazy, but it would be utterly redundant to accuse Hollywood of being devoid of creativity and originality. As far as re-treads go, this certainly isn’t the worst offender, but it’s certainly not on par with Steven Soderbergh’s genre-defining original.
For one, we don’t really get a feel for all these characters and their motives. Besides Debbie, no one on the team has a goal outside of the big score at the end of an elaborate and risky crime, which leaves most of them fairly one-dimensional, even if they do share some chemistry. There’s no terrible villain this time either; the closest we come is Debbie’s ex-boyfriend and former partner in crime Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), but he too is not given enough depth. Perhaps most glaring of all is that things run a little too smoothly throughout for our crooks. There’s no real conflict or unforeseen events creating tension to up the ante and have us on the edge of our seats.
But despite low stakes and some unneeded padding (the less said about James Corden’s goofy insurance fraud investigator the better), if you can release yourself enough from the grasp of the 2001 classic, there’s fun to be had here. It’s great to see such a high-calibre cast of leading ladies tearing up the screen, but it’s probably not enough to warrant a continuing story with Ocean’s 9 or 10, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s best no one stoops to the self-indulgent depths of something like Ocean’s 12 ever again.
Ocean’s 8 is available in Australian cinemas from June 7
Image courtesy of Roadshow Films