Thanks to a spectacularly lackluster paint-by-numbers script, OCEAN’S 8 is an uninspired sequel that wastes the talents of an amazing cast. The quasi-reboot is not simply an issue of being a lazy money grab, however, in that it also fails to deliver anything close to a competent movie.
Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean; sister to George Clooney’s Danny, and a criminal mastermind in her own right. Upon her release from prison, Debbie is determined to pull off a seemingly impossible score – a Cartier necklace worth $150 million during the middle of the famed Met Gala – while seeking revenge against the person responsible for her imprisonment. Yes, the plot is overly familiar, and – right down to the opening scene of Bullock lying to a parole board in order to get released – it is quickly made clear that OCEAN’S 8 aims solely to be a gender-swap reimagining of OCEAN’S 11.
And that is a shame. While the previous trilogy had its ups and downs, the movies were filled with charm and personality (yes, even 12), and, as characters, each member of the crew was developed enough so that you actually cared about them. Cate Blanchett (the Brad Pitt of this film) is bizarrely underutilized — and, yet, she is a standout when compared to Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, and Helena Bonham Carter. Both Rihanna and rapper-TV personality Awkwafina, the perceived weak links of this cast, were given the most to work with – and they provide the few bright spots here.
OCEAN’S 8 is a tragic case of nothing being below the surface. Far more attention was paid to costume design, trendy cameos, and director Gary Ross’ impersonation of Steven Soderbergh’s visual style than, say, either character or plot development. Anne Hathaway’s Daphne Kluger is the only one who has any sort of arc; and it comes in the way of a nonsensical, late-inning plot twist that screams “LOOK HOW BRILLIANT!!”
As for the heist itself, it is completely devoid of suspense, tension, excitement, and fun. A minor hiccup that takes two minutes and a rather convenient ‘my kid sister is a magnet expert’ plot device to fix is the biggest challenge these ladies face because the script fails to even provide them with a true antagonist. James Corden is shoehorned in as an insurance investigator with a history dealing with the Ocean family, but his role only serves to extended an already poorly-paced and edited film.
By the time everything in OCEAN’S 8 is explained, you are most likely going to think about how some of it really doesn’t make any sense… and you will be right.
Sandra Bullock & Co. deserved a lot better.
One and a Half out of Five Beers.