Ocean’s Eight Review

Written by Chris Baxter
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After the limited success of 2016’s all-female Ghostbusters, whose reasonable box office was stifled by its massive production budget of $144 million, it was a brave move to reinvent another much-loved franchise in the same gender-swapping way. Still, that’s what Warner Bros. has done with the latest chapter of the Ocean’s saga, Ocean’s Eight. That bravery has been more than rewarded, as the new movie has already passed the Ghostbusters total box office, despite having less than half the budget.
The achievement is even more remarkable when you consider how much of that budget must have gone to the cast, with an endless parade of movie royalty required to make up the titular ‘eight’. Between them, they boast no less than four Oscars, six Golden Globes and even nine GRAMMYs. But this is money well spent, as the gang has a real on-screen chemistry between them (despite rumours of a less than harmonious set). Leads Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are particularly sparky, with Helena Bonham Carter on typically quirky form, Sarah Paulson in ‘mom-mode’ and Rihanna playing it super cool as hacker Nine Ball. Anne Hathaway also seems to be thoroughly enjoying herself as Hollywood uber-diva Daphne Kluger, although her inclusion on the movie poster is something of a spoiler for the main post-heist plot twist.

Photo by Eva Rinaldi, CC BY-SA 2.0
Sandra Bullock leads an all-star cast.

Many all-star cast movies buckle under the collective weight of their leads, but Ocean’s Eight is a rare exception. Director and writer, Gary Ross, manages to give everyone enough screen time to shine, without them ever clashing with each other or trying to dominate the set. The result is a gang with which we feel instantly familiar, and you find yourself willing not only the heist but also the film to succeed.

As for that plot, it’s probably better not to think about it too much. While it may not be a triumph of style over substance, if you look too closely at the workings, you could easily fall into one of the many, many holes along the way and spoil it for yourself. If you want a twisty, turny, thinky thriller, look for the latest John Grisham. It’s much more in the mould of George Clooney’s reboots, and indeed Frank Sinatra’s actual original from 1960. It’s fun, clever and works if you are prepared to let it.

With today’s casinos more likely to be on your mobile than on a glitzy Strip, the girls set their sights on something altogether more glamourous: the annual Met Gala, and in particular, a $150 million diamond necklace to be worn by one of the guests. What follows is an entertaining outing for the traditional Ocean’s formula of elaborate setup, slick heist, success, failure and final flourish. Of course, it’s all updated with online hacking and 3D printers, but the style is much the same, walking you through the plans carefully so that when the swift and slick operation starts, you know what is happening and why.

Photo by Collaboration Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0
Even at 80, Elliot Gould still steals the show.

Apart from a frankly puzzling appearance by James Corden, who appears to be playing himself, it all moves along fast enough to prevent you worrying too much about the absurd coincidences required and the countless ways the whole thing could fall apart at any moment. Elliot Gould’s appearance is much more effective, tying the film neatly to the rest of the franchise with talk of Debbie Ocean’s newly deceased bother, Danny. At 80 years old, Gould can still steal any scene he is in, even when faced with the commanding presence of the sparkling Sandra Bullock.

The only real disappointment was to be sat in an audience of mostly female movie goers. It’s a good, solid comedy heist movie, not a chick flick, and there is no reason that the male audience shouldn’t enjoy it every bit as much as the Clooney versions. There is no feminist agenda here and the team succeeds on their merits, not their womanly charms.

How much you enjoy Ocean’s Eight is up to you and what you expect from the film. But if you’re looking for a piece of funny, smart and sassy entertainment that will amuse you without making you think too hard, then you won’t go far wrong. Just remember to leave your cynicism at the door before you go in.
Read 4549 times Last modified on Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:23
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Chris Baxter

Chris Baxter

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