18th June 2018 (UK)
Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City's yearly Met Gala.
Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway
Eight deliciously plotting female cons with various eccentric personalities, robbing a priceless diamond necklace from one of the most prestigious fashion events in the world? Sounds like a fun time on paper. What a shame the end result is something excruciatingly unremarkable.
With increasing calls and demands for more significant roles for women in films, Hollywood has responded with, let’s say, a varying level of success in redressing this balance of male-dominated stories in mainstream movies. Rey from both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi as well as Furiosa in the 2015 incarnation of Mad Max are but two examples of well-developed warrior women that have come out of the studio system in the past few years. But for every Joan of Arc there is a dozen Kim Kardashians and Hollywood has started a gimmicky trend of gender swapping well-established franchises recently; first with 2016’s Ghostbusters and now the Oceans series, with a female spin-off of both The Expendables and 21 Jump Street still upcoming.
I find it difficult not to feel insulted by these gender swap movies as the studios claim to be supporting a worthy cause, yet so obviously don’t have the confidence to make an original, female-focused franchise that it’s embarrassing to see just how hollow their intentions actually are. Thus what we get with 2016’s Ghostbusters, and now Oceans Eight, is a lazy, middle of the road film that is perfectly watchable, but altogether forgettable and passive.
The heist plot zips along as you’d expect: Sandra Bullock’s Debbie Ocean leaves prison after a 5-year sentence and begins to recruit a new posse of thieves and scoundrels to pull off the most daring heist of recent times. The prize? A royal European necklace worth tens of millions of dollars, hanging tentatively around Daphne Kruger’s (Anne Hathaway) neck. Theall-starr cast (featuring Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Rihanna) all do a fine job and are clearly having fun being charmingly corrupt. This fun never quite transcends through the screen however: it very much feels like we’ve seen it all before. So whilst I cannot admit to ever being bored, I was also never thrilled. There is a major lack of stakes or tension during the heist too and the absence of any urgency burdens Ocean’s Eight when it occasionally does show promise, making it feel like a wasted opportunity.
That’s not to say Ocean’s Eight isn’t a component film: the script has a few laughs and flows nicely, the production design accurately captures the glitz of the Met, and the score harks back to classic crime-capers with style. It’s a shame then, that it’s wrapped up in the equivalent of drab parcel paper instead of exciting birthday dressing.
It’s actually labouring to think of more things to talk about, as it has such little impact on the memory. Ocean’s Eight refuses to be special. It’s unable to ever be more than “Okay”. I’d say the future of the film isn’t bright and I predict a modest profit before being forgotten amongst the plethora of passable entertainment that 2018 has provided so far.
Glitzy production design
Impressive ensemble cast
Waste of included talent
Never thrilling or anything above forgettable