Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Ocean's 8: Film Review

Ocean's 8: Film Review


Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Richard Armitage
Director: Gary Ross
Ocean's 8: Film Review

"A him gets noticed, a her gets ignored."

Uttered by Sandra Bullock's Debbie Ocean midway through this female-fronted heist, it's hard not to ignore a single line of dialogue which points to the dilemma new blockbuster Ocean's 8 faces.

On the one hand, it's faced with being released in a post Me Too world, and coming nearly two decades after the Steven Soderbergh led remake of the 1960s film. And on the other, the fact it's an all female cast will depressingly be viewed by some as a cynical film that's hardly warranted - a rebuttal to a societal issue of under-representation that's dogged Hollywood for the past 18 months or so.

Leaving all that aside, Gary Ross' Ocean's 8 is roughly on a similar trajectory to 2001's Ocean's Eleven.

This time, Bullock is Debbie Ocean, sister to George Clooney's Danny (who's apparently dead, a point repeatedly and unnecessarily replayed throughout the film, a statement perhaps on those hating the idea of this new spinoff). After being paroled from a 5 year stretch (the details of which become more apparent later on), Debbie meets up with former colleague Lou (the ultra cool Cate Blanchett) to propose a heist.

This proposition is to swoop on the Met Gala and steal a $150 million Cartier necklace from host Daphne Kluger (Hathway, in an occasionally preening and mickey-taking role) - so the duo begin to assemble a crew and hatch a plan to pull it off and get away with it.
Ocean's 8: Film Review

So far, so similar to the original Ocean's series.

And yet, in its own way, Ocean's 8 becomes its own thing, and bizarrely, never quite does enough to make it its own thing as well.

Bullock's muted and introspective throughout, a counter to Blanchett's spikier and effortlessly energetic turn as Lou. It's an odd choice as a lead and while there's nothing missing from Bullock's turn, the film certainly misses a je ne sais quoi and enigma from its lead that's noticeable throughout.
Bonham-Carter's fashion designer, first glimpsed slumped behind a counter supping from a jar of Nutella after a failed show, has a spark of edginess that's underplayed; and the rest of the cast are barely given enough time to shine throughout - a criminal touch given how strong they potentially all could be.

Repeated mentions of Danny Ocean, and even a framed shot of Clooney's smiling mug on a table, give the feeling Ocean's 8 is struggling to escape the former's shadow.

But as with the usual Ocean's films, there's a slickness to the execution.

Jazzy soundtracks, split screens and stylish touches give it the spit and polish which is needed but also render it more as a sheen and once over than a strong DNA that seeps through the screen. It's all perfectly well-executed, yet it's an extended build-up to the laying of the plans and then a brief heist at the gala that surprises in a bait and switch.
Ocean's 8: Film Review

The Gala itself seems to be a weak excuse to allow some of the fashion world's Glitterati to shine, with footage clearly shot at this year's event, and with some celebs given more time than is strictly necessary.

It's at this point that James Corden comes in, imbuing the film once again with an energy that's needed and while the end has more loose threads than a tapestry being picked apart, there is a general feeling that the jump-out-of-your-seat-and-punch-the-air moment is sorely missing.

The emotional investment for the heist is severely under-cooked, and while there are some twists at the end, the resolution feels piecemeal, the reward unearned and the oh-so-familiar touches to the narrative disappointing.

Ultimately, the film needs, and deserves, to be judged on its own merits, rather than as a piece of feminist sisterhood cinema, launched in a post-Weinstein world.

On that front, and sadly,  Ocean's 8 lacks the sparkle the likes of which has been given to its targetted diamond. Sure, it's polished, accomplished and blessed with some truly talented actresses, but it can't help feel muted and subdued, with the twists falling flat.

Its low-key understatement may help it in some perverse ways, but it certainly doesn't have the zing and bling which it's clearly trying to pursue. It plays a little too loose with its detachedness and relaxed approach.

And in any heist movie, that lack of sizzle is, sadly and fatally, nothing short of utterly criminal.

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