Ocean’s Eight (Ocean’s 8) (2018)
Ocean’s Eight (Ocean’s 8) (2018)

Genre: Crime Comedy and Heist Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.

Release Date: June 8th, 2018 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Gary Ross Actors: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Richard Armitage, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, James Corden

 


 

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ot ten minutes after being released from a five-year stint in a New Jersey Women’s Prison, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is already plotting her next major criminal endeavor. The target is simple – a Cartier diamond necklace worth over $150 million – yet its location is anything but. Only leaving its underground vault for one evening, to be worn by actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), the jewels will have the added complications of their own personal escort team and an exceedingly short window of accessibility during New York’s annual Met Gala, an event of extreme exclusivity and even more restrictive security. Teaming up with her former partner Lou (Cate Blanchett), Debbie recruits a fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter), a computer hacker (Rihanna), a jeweler (Mindy Kaling), a pickpocket (Awkwafina), and a fence (Sarah Paulson) to help pull off the heist of a lifetime.

Deception is in Debbie’s blood; a life of crime seems inescapable. More than five years in prison hasn’t done anything to reform her morally bankrupt character. In fact, the incarceration only intensified her yearning for a new heist. So should audiences really sympathize with her? “I’m not going to end up back in prison,” she asserts, though it’s the insistence of a person not considering going out in a blaze of glory, but rather that of someone who doesn’t play by the rules of real life.

She’s a persuasive, influential, independent woman, which makes her an admirable character for the big screen. However, Debbie is also a crook. And the subsequent women introduced to her crew are no better – including Lou, who waters down vodka in a bar, Nine Ball the hacker, and Constance, a pickpocket in a park. They’re diverse and extremely individualistic (it’s always enticing to see so many A-list leading ladies in a movie cast), but they’re not driven by anything other than money. The most entertaining of the bunch isn’t even an official player, but rather an unwitting accomplice – the air-headed, self-absorbed celebrity portrayed by Hathaway. If their collaboration and the hindrances of the heist were at least funny, maybe the whole thing would be acceptable. Unfortunately, humor seems to elude even the scenes designed solely for comic relief.

Jazzy, playful music sets the tone for inoffensive, flirtatious, lighthearted crime – the kind with no repercussions and little chance of tragedy. Ocean makes a comment early on about how women are often ignored, which makes them more effective in crime – a powerful bit of social commentary that is eventually and disappointingly overturned when male characters pop up in significant roles. But what this film really needed was a potent villain for the women to team up to defeat; yet even this aspect is insincere, since a feigned insurance investigation eats up the last act, generating no suspense and not even a hint of the law closing in.

A zirconium 3D printer is about all there is for updated technology, which is surprising considering that it’s been more than a decade since the last entry in the “Ocean’s” franchise. Brief tension arises from the time constraints of a digital readout ticking down (or up, as it’s a percentage of a scanning process), but getting caught in the middle of the heist never feels like a genuine eventuality; tiny hiccups along the way barely register as worrisome. When will the truly clever components come into play? As it turns out, unguessable creativity remains upsettingly absent. When all of the characters openly infiltrate the gala, it becomes evident that allowing photographic and video implications aren’t a concern – and they most definitely should be. Every one of them should have been a prime suspect during the fraud investigation.

Casually acquiring a top position with the companies working to plan and cater the event appear so easy, one wonders why Debbie wasn’t simply able to get a job at Cartier as the person who inspects the diamonds. By the conclusion, there’s more focus on the glitz and glamor and the beauty and fashion of the star-studded ballroom than on the heist itself, which makes it apparent why the execution of the grand larceny is so sloppy and slow: the filmmakers are too intent on having the stars look good rather than competent. Worst of all, however, is the predictability of the whole ordeal; if there’s one thing a heist movie shouldn’t be, it’s predictable.

– The Massie Twins

  • 3/10