After the male dominated Oceans franchise took the crime genre by storm, it was only a matter of time until we had the next installment. Oceans 8 is set in the same universe as the previous trilogy(thank you Marvel) and in attempts to add some much needed life  and flare to the franchise, cast an all female team to helm the franchise. In theory, t’s a smart idea and can bring us a new, refreshing take on a played out concept. Not to mention the film will be starring Sandra Bullock as lead character Debbie Ocean and is aided by a star-studded supporting cast.

Just released from prison, Danny Ocean’s sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock) attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded Met Gala and her first mission is to quickly assemble the rest of the team: immediately getting in touch with trusted partner in crime (Cate Blanchett), a gem cutter (Mindy Kaling), a suburban wife and mom with the urge to relive her past (Sarah Paulson), computer hacker (Rihanna), a down-on-her luck fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter) and sleight-of-hand artist (Awkwafina) to complete the  A-team of thieves. The group targets Anne Hathaway’s  arrogant star to become a pawn in the gang’s elaborate plot.

Allstar cast, interesting premise, this movie is has to be great, right?

No.

The strengths of the film are the on screen talents of the film. Sandra Bullock is a magnetic screen presence and is the leader that the cast needs, but ultimately falls short due to the restraints put on her by the writing(we’ll get on that later). Like the crew members who surround her, Bullock and company are not really allowed much more depth than just her criminal skill and thievery. Don’t get me wrong, the acting of the cast is great, but the film falters as everyone is defined by their job rather than their personality. Each team member gets a brief backstory, reminiscent of scenes on the cutting room floor of 2016’s Suicide Squad, but not enough that you seriously worry about any consequences on their lives. Rihanna isn’t given anything interesting to do besides poke her head out of a laptop and unfortunately Mindy Kailing and Cate Blanchett are almost non-existent throughout the film.

The film gets some life  from flashes of greatness from Awkwafina and Anne Hathaway, but far too little due to the nonsensical script. Slight of hand con artist played by Awkwafina, is the punch that the film needed but was far too underutilized.Hathaway’s performance of  star-treatment is satirical and by far the highlight of the film, alongside her foil Helena Bonham Carter, playing the easily corrupted Irish dress designer Rose Weil.

The film is set to such strict guidelines and is tightly wound, restricting the women the freedom to recreate the fun and effortless vibe that made Soderbergh’s film contained. Oceans 8 lacks the blockbuster, popcorn guzzling intensity it should have for a summertime flick. Ocean’s 8 in comparison to the Sodenbergh helmed trilogy shows a glaring incompetency from behind the camera. The climax of this film was almost as disappointing as the mishandling of the onscreen talent and   instead of being smart and surprising, the film in itself  is sloppy and predictable.

The plot of Ocean’s 8  induces no anxiety or any repercussions, and the film plays as if there is nothing at stake. The crew faces almost little to no resistance in their heist and when they do it’s easily resolved within a matter of minutes.  The biggest downfall for this film’s plot was that there was no villian, along with there being a lack of suspense the women have no major person or thing they are racing against.  Oceans 8 is bogged down by a subplot between Sandra Bullock and a former lover that undercuts the job at hand. The film consists of mind-numbing plot holes and out of nowhere plot-twists that lack any type of resemblance to smart writing but more as a reach for shock value.

Ross—who also co-wrote the script, with Olivia Milch doesn’t hit the beats as squarely as he needs to and the film is edited and put together in such a manner that  it includes an inexplicable fourth act that is filled with poor jokes and lazy writing,  The success of the previous Ocean’s films come from the light-speed pacing and tone set by Sodenbergh, but Ocean’s 8  felt like a college student pulling an all nighter to fill up their essay with pointless fluff just to meet the word limit.

Ocean’s 8 is watchable thanks to the starstudded cast doing everything in their power to carry a lifeless script parred with directing that feels like a Sodenbergh imitation. If Steven Sodenbergh decided to return to the franchise, we could’ve gotten something special but we have to settle for a mediocre,wasted opportunity.

Grade:C

 

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

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