REVIEW

Ocean's 8

OR (This Con is On Fire)

Author

Ankit Ojha




WORDICT

A-Okay






ELITE METER
0
%








BYTE THE BULLET

Predictable and slightly derivative, but very classy, and a lot of fun.


Ankit Ojha

June 23, 2018

Plot

Debbie Ocean is a woman on a not-so-lethal-but-not-so-legal mission—and she's not alone.


On the surface, Ocean’s 8 doesn’t really sound like a great idea—it follows a trio of wildly different films that successfully managed to keep an ongoing story consistent. Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy is what I’d call a narratively distinct, but delicious three-course meal that begins with a classic starter, moves it up with a main-course of High-Stakes Heist: The European-Arthouse Remix, and closes with some visually sweet hyperrealism. In spite of a top-billing cast and some insane brand power, it’s quite a crazy achievement for Soderbergh to have held his ground on his vision. It’s only natural for the studios to jump on the intertextuality-bandwagon for some more-of-the-same success.

The Princess Diaries

(L-R)Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter star in Gary Ross's Ocean's 8, a Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures release.

Here’s the thing though: Ocean’s 8 is a pretty good movie. Now it doesn’t really break new ground or anything, but every so often we need something lightweight that’s also a well-made movie. Warts and all, the latest in the Ocean’s series is just that—a whole lot of guilt-free fun; quite a surprise, considering the qualitative track record of most comeback sequels we’ve gotten so far. Sure, it’s dangerously reminiscent to the first film (that parole interview was just too on-the-nose a reference), but as the minutes go by, you’ll end up realizing just how much of a love letter it is to Eleven. The idea was never to prove a point here, or break critical ground. Instead, what you see is Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, 2012) and the rest of the team having a blast doing what they love, making a credible film in the process.
The biggest surprises of [Ocean's 8] are Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter.
And with a cast this talented, it only gets better. The powerhouse coup of Sandra Bullock (Gravity, 2014), Cate Blanchett (Manifesto, 2017), Mindy Kaling (Hulu’s The Mindy Project), and Sarah Paulson (Blue Jay, 2016), among others, almost makes it difficult to imagine what the movie would have been without them. They’re the backbone of the movie, and it shows. The biggest surprises in the film, however, aren’t really Bullock or Blanchett (they’re both excellent, no fast ones pulled there)—they’re Anne Hathaway (Interstellar, 2014) and Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club). The former’s Diva act is just about perfect—you know she’s doing a balancing act between two extremes, but her absolute conviction to the role makes it all look like a walk in the park. Bonham Carter, on the other hand, nails the anxiety and low self-esteem—to the point that it becomes way too relatable. (Excuse me while I process my triggered nerves).

WerkWerkWerkWerkWerkWerkWerk

(L-R) Cate Blanchett and Rihanna star in Gary Ross's Ocean's 8, a Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures release.

With so many things working so well in the movie, it’s hard not to think about just how convenient the heist itself feels—every plot device that’s ripe for tension appears to have a countermove that just reverses everything. This is especially jarring in the third act, which diffuses a significant conflict no sooner than it’s introduced. Now that’s not to say the Big Reveals ruin the fun—there are some twists that you’d low-key desperately want to happen, and others you wouldn’t have seen coming. In spite of these hijinks, however, Ocean’s 8 seems to more than make up for them with its undeniable charm, and consistent competence.
[This is] a heist film that's stylish and confident, but also very topical.
Eigyl Bryld’s cinematographic decisions—the classic old school crash-zoom, for one—add a very distinct visual flavor to the whole movie. Sprinkle that with a fantastic soundtrack that allows it a shared identity that’s both an homage and a series identifier of sorts, and you’ve got yourself a heist film that’s stylish and confident, but also very topical. A crucial conversation between Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock’s characters while in the process of “recruiting” has Blanchett asking Bullock why doesn’t she want men in the team, to which the latter responds, “A Him gets noticed, a Her gets ignored. And for once, we'd like to be ignored.” This is precisely the kind of subtle shade thrown at most of the societal restrictions on women and how both men and women who grow up internalizing a certain mindset will be made to think. These women are tired of feeling dispensable, and strangely enough, the heist in itself works as an act of reclaiming their agency in a world dominated by men.

All that CONfidence

(L-R) Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett star in Gary Ross's Ocean's 8, a Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures release.

Which brings us to the most essential thing about Ocean’s 8—the movie isn’t as much about the destination; it’s about the ride. It’s about the protagonists getting to know each other, taking bold strides, breaking free, and having a ton of fun along the way. Somewhere along the line, long after you’ve walked out of the film, you’d realize that—fun as it was—the heist never mattered at all; it was the people all along. And in this case, that’s not a bad thing at all.

VERDICT

Drop your cynicism-tinted shades, people, and give Ocean's 8 for a spin. It might not be quite an original, but it's more than that—a great time out at the movies, with a killer cast and an even better soundtrack. Very good.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

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Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Plot

Debbie Ocean is a woman on a not-so-lethal-but-not-so-legal mission—and she's not alone.

Director

Release Year

Rated

PG-13

ELITE METER
0
%

Plot

Debbie Ocean is a woman on a not-so-lethal-but-not-so-legal mission—and she's not alone.

Director

Release Year

Rated

PG-13

ELITE METER
0
%