Film review: Ocean’s Eight

An all-female reboot of a respected franchise? With no huge online backlash campaign against the creators? Must not be a sci-fi or fantasy property.

Ocean’s Eight is the sequel and thinly veiled reboot to the Ocean’s franchise of heist films. It stars Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, the estranged sister of legendary criminal and George Clooney lookalike Danny Ocean. Following a stint in prison, Debbie sets her sights on the heist of a lifetime to top all the other heists of lifetimes we’ve seen before.

I watched the whole Ocean’s franchise the week before this film. And I desperately wish I hadn’t. Because now I’ve just seen the same film four times in the past seven days.

That’s perhaps a tad cruel. Ocean’s Eight did shake up the established formula in several meaningful ways. For a start, there’s only eight of them instead of thirteen, meaning there’s less time the audience is scratching their heads trying to remember who’s who. Instead of ‘oh that’s the Chinese one’, it’s ‘oh, that’s Rihanna, the hacker-lady’. The New York setting is an appreciated change from another Vegas casino (even if it is a bit eyebrow-raising that the female heist team gets to steal diamonds at a fashion show- if only they could steal themselves a man, am I right ladies?).

The ensemble cast is all good in their respective roles as thieving archetypes. Special mention to Helena Bonham Carter who is bags of fun with her nervous mouse-like uncertainty. Cate Blanchett is predictably compelling and Bullock situates herself satisfyingly as the head of this potentially revived series.

As for the bad, the plot and pacing of the film are at once uneven and flat. There are complications to the heist but the speed with which they are resolved and the impact they have on the characters are bafflingly poorly executed. The plot slickly slides along like a YouTube progress bar encountering no resistance with the only buffering being for seconds at the most. Certainly not impactful enough for tension. And as I said this film is cut and paste exactly the same as the others, in particular, Ocean’s Eleven. The characters are all just female versions of the original crew and while those remain fun characters, the Ocean’s Eight gang never feel particularly unique.

Oh and also, James Corden is in this film. Surprise. He’s actually not bad here but I can’t deny I recoiled a little. So be ready.