Movie Review: “Ocean’s 8”
After an ex-boyfriend ratted her out to the police, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) was sent to prison. She has had plenty of time to plan her revenge and a big scale heist. She plans to rob the Met Gala. More specifically, she plans to rob the neck of a high-profile celebrity who will be attending the Met Gala. This will be a big heist that will require many moving parts to come together perfectly. Debbie Ocean is good, but this job is too big to do alone, so she needs a team.
To start, Debbie tracks down her old friend Lou (Cate Blanchett). Together, they get a skilled pick-pocket, a jewel expert, a hacker, a high-profile fashion icon, and more. Even with all of these skilled women, the job will not be easy but, together, they have a chance of pulling it off. Together, they are Ocean’s eight.
The Pros & Cons
Debbie Ocean (+4pts)
The Heist (-8pts)
The Necklace (+4pts)
Daphne Kluger (-4pts)
The Investigation (+3pts)
Pro: Debbie Ocean (+4pts)
Sandra Bullock plays a very prepared and determined woman. She is on a revenge mission and wants to make a ton of money in the process. I liked this element of the character a lot. She is desperate in her mission for revenge and is willing to risk her freedom, but she is very smart so has seemingly thought of everything.
What makes this character even better is the depth that is added in regards to her brother. I liked the subtly of her being skeptical of his death and I liked the sense that she felt like she had something to prove. The movie subtly implies that this heist (in addition to revenge and making a buck) is a way of honoring Danny Ocean. I expected this movie would have a cheap, lazy tie in to the previous movies, but was pleasantly surprised by the depth that the connection added to Debbie.
Con: The Heist (-8pts)
This should have been one of the movie’s greatest strengths, but it was actually the greatest weakness. This is a heist movie so the heist should have been interesting. For this movie, the heist made it a very slow-paced and uneventful movie. Most of the movie consists of the characters sitting around and talking. Nothing really happens and audiences will tire of it quickly.
Then the time for planning is over and the characters are ready to attempt the heist. As a result of audiences being bored by the setup, they will not be very invested in the heist itself. I will not lie, the heist was moderately entertaining, but it should have been the movie’s big moment. This is made worse by the fact that (it turns out) there was a whole, elaborate, surprise part of the heist that the audience does not find out about until after the fact (which means there is no suspense over the threat of being caught). Instead of pulling the audience in for the setup, and delivering a satisfying finish, this movie bores the audience and delivers a mediocre, lack-luster climax.
Pro: The Necklace (+4pts)
While I was not a fan of the execution of the heist by the filmmakers, I enjoyed idea of the necklace. This necklace poses a few challenges for our protagonists. First and foremost, they have to steal from a moving, intelligent target, as they have to steal from the neck of a person. Additionally, the necklace is valued at millions of dollars, which results in Daphne Kluger having armed security at all times during the Met Gala.
During the days leading up to the event, and during the heist itself, this necklace requires a team of people in order to steal it. There are some surprise challenges that come up and it was interesting to see these challenges play out. One of the challenges played out in a very lazy way that took a lot of the suspense out of the rest of the heist. It is A challenge that Debbie solves without telling the rest of the crew, but I will get into that when I discuss Daphne Kluger. While this challenge was handled in a pretty ridiculous way, and the filmmakers made a boring heist movie, the necklace gave plenty of potential and made some unique heist-film scenarios (the filmmakers just executed it poorly).
Con: Daphne Kluger (-4pts)
Now back to my problem with Daphne Kluger. To be clear, my issue is not with the character or the actress playing her. My issue is with the resolution of one of the heist’s challenges, which is related to Daphne Kluger. So there is a challenge that the team must overcome in this heist. Debbie Ocean resolves that issue but does not tell the rest of her team.
I have a couple problems with this. The first is with the fact that, rather than telling them about the resolution, Debbie Ocean gives her entire team an extremely unnecessary level of stress. My next problem with this resolution is that it, more or less, took away the need for two team members. I will not mention which team members as that may give away the resolution, but know that there are two team members whose roles are made irrelevant by the resolution that Debbie kept secret. It does not seem like this much of an issue when it is revealed but, the more you think about it, it creates a giant plot hole in the story.
Pro: The Investigation (+3pts)
After the heist, we see an investigation by a character played by James Corden. This character is trying to determine exactly happened and who was involved. I like James Corden and enjoyed seeing him in this role, but seeing a post-heist investigation was definitely something that interested me. In too many heist films, we see the characters pull off a heist and ride off into the sunset with their prize (usually money), but with every heist there would be an investigation. Rarely do we see that investigation.
I liked that this movie emphasized that the heist itself is only half the battle. If you pull of a heist, you still have to survive whatever authorities that would be looking for answers. The potential was there for this movie to have a really intense finale. Seeing James Corden looking into each member of the team (and maybe breaking some) could have made for a very suspenseful and compelling movie. Unfortunately, the filmmakers resolved the investigation in a similar manner to how they resolved the Daphne Kluger challenge. It was a bit of a disappointment, but the potential of what could happen was interesting enough. I just wish the filmmakers captalized on this aspect of the story.
Con: Eight? (-3pts)
Of all the characters in this movie, I thought Lou (Cate Blanchett) and Tammy (Sarah Paulson) were the most useless. Now, maybe the writers had some purpose for these characters that was not shown on screen, but as an audience member, it felt like this movie easily could have been Ocean’s 6. Add this to Debbie’s solution of the Daphne Kluger problem, and we can eliminate two more characters, giving us Ocean’s 4.
When I really thought about it, this job only required four people (including Debbie). This was my impression, and the filmmakers did a poor job of convincing the me otherwise. In a movie like this, the audience needs to feel that each character is essential, but the filmmakers added too many characters for them to handle properly. By doing this, they sacrificed the importance of a lot of characters and made the movie seem cluttered.
Grade: C- (71pts)
Ocean’s 8 fell far short of expectations. It has a packed, talented cast and is the fourth installment of a hit franchise, but it failed at delivering anything memorable. A couple of the better things about this movie was the concept of stealing a valuable necklace off of a moving target and the investigation that came after the heist. Unfortunately, the movie drops the ball on both.
The movie is boring as it leads up to the heist, and is anti-climactic during it. Debbie Ocean was an interesting character that Sandra Bullock brought to life well, but the rest of the characters were either underdeveloped or unnecessary. At the end of the day, this movie could have worked. It had the potential and the benefit of being a return to a hit franchise but the filmmakers resorted to lazy filmmaking and delivered a movie that was barely watchable.