Ocean’s 8 (2018) Review

This all-female spin-off to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy follows Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), who plans to commit a US$150-million Cartier diamond necklace heist at New York City’s Met Gala event. In order to pull off the job successfully, she and Lou (Cate Blanchett) assemble a crack team that includes hacker nicknamed Nine Ball (Rihanna), fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson) and pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina).

When the first teaser trailer for Ocean’s 8 made its debut late last year, it got me wondering: Do we really need an all-female spin-off to George Clooney-led and Steven Soderbergh-directed Ocean’s franchise? With Hollywood’s current obsession over feminism these days, why not? All they have to do is use an existing well-known franchise, swap genders, add in a few famous actresses and voila… you got yourself a female version of Ocean’s movie.

But as unnecessary as it may seem, it is also hard to ignore the existence of this spin-off altogether. After all, how often you get to see A-list actresses that have the likes of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway in the same movie? Not surprisingly, the ensemble cast itself is fun to look at. Sandra Bullock is decent enough as the lead actress of the movie. Cate Blanchett is looking classy as usual, while Anne Hathaway has a field day playing an egotistic movie star Daphne Kluger.

As for the supporting cast, Helena Bonham Carter delivers her usual kooky self as the nervy and insecure fashion designer Rose Weil. Others include Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna and Awkwafina are equally adequate in their respective roles. The only gripe about these actresses is that screenwriter Olivia Milch alongside co-writer and director Gary Ross could actually do more to develop their characters further.

Gary Ross gives a workmanlike direction in this movie. He even goes as far as emulating the jazzy tone and style of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 8 trilogy, particularly Ocean’s Eleven. Unfortunately, Ocean’s 8 somehow lacks the cinematic grace and tension of that 2001 movie.

Problem is, it spends too much time on planning the heist but the eventual payoff is short-lived. There is little suspense as the whole heist is too smooth-sailing for its own good. I would appreciate this movie more if Ross takes some calculated risks on raising the stake rather than opting to play safe instead. Although he does attempt to add some twists, particularly during the aftermath of the heist, there isn’t much of a surprise anyway. This is especially true if you are familiar with the heist genre.

Here’s hoping that Ocean’s 8 is more of a one-off. Besides, it’s hard to see this as a prospect for more sequels (read: another trilogy) in the future.

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