“The plan is priceless.”
(Written by Gary Ross and Olivia Milch. Directed by Gary Ross)
We follow Debbie Ocean (Sanda Bullock), the sister of Ocean’s 11‘s Danny Ocean, continuing her life of heists and scams after being released from prison. To get revenge for the lover who framed her and sent her to prison, Claude (Richard Armitage), Ocean gathers her partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett) and several other accomplices to pull off the biggest heist imaginable. After this spin-off was announced, I was excited to see what the prospects would be for the film after the disastrous reception of the all-female Ghostbusters. I must say that Ocean’s 8 met my expectations for the heist itself, though has a somewhat sloppy third act that could have used some finessing.
The casting of these leading women was ingenious, and all eight women complimented each other’s acting style tremendously. Although Helena Bonham Carter’s washed-up fashion designer was fascinating, I was somewhat perplexed as to her Irish accent and why it was necessary to make the character Irish. There is an interesting video essay as to why the actors playing the various roles make so much sense to a viewer that I highly recommend you watch (and many of ScreenPrism’s videos!). However, in short, ScreenPrism describes that these actors are essentially playing characters that summarise the audience’s perceptions of said actors. Bullock being this charismatic enigma that still is an endearing and lovable persona, would make sense to a viewer that she plays Debbie Ocean, who is always calm and collected in her approach to every situation. On the other hand, you get Anne Hathaway playing the spoiled, materialistic actress who everyone loves to hate, which is how people are responding to Anne Hathaway in real life. All of these women have pulled off these characters effortlessly and made the film wonderfully enjoyable because of it. It was ultimately a refreshing film that showed strong women pulling off a heist well without an unnecessary antagonist to diminish the experience.
The structure was slick and pacey, yet never felt too rushed to explain the intricacies of the heist to viewers, and in consequence the film had the necessary energy that films like these need in order to maintain a viewers’ focus. Eigil Bryld’s cinematography does well to clarify every step of the plan and, combined with Juliette Welfling’s simple editing, made sure transitions or tense sequences were not too convoluted as most action films seem to be presented nowadays. Ross and Milch’s script is, again, pacey, and does well keep arcs of scenes short and never too embellished. The heist sequence itself was thrilling to watch and had me rooting for them every step of the way, due to the sheer cleverness of the plan that was being executed. As I said to my peers, it was a film that showed badass women doing the job well, and that was all I could ask for.
As aforementioned, the third act of the film was at times sloppy, and it tried to reveal a few twists that did not seem cohesive with the events of the film. It does not help that in this third act, these eight women are disappointingly being contested by James Corden as to who is the protagonist in this final sequence. Corden’s performance was the epitome of self-gratuitousness as the insurance investigator. It felt like whoever was casting the film felt they needed a male star to draw in more viewers. The character felt superfluous to the plot and the last third could have been a lot pacier if the detective was removed from the picture.
However, when people picture an all-female cast in reboots/spin-offs/remakes, I hope people think of this film as a good example of how it should be done. In a time where this ‘remake saga’ of Hollywood at points makes me lose faith in blockbuster films having any sense of originality, it is refreshing to see that Ocean’s 8 was an enjoyable film that was executed well in a lot of aspects. I highly recommend people see this film as a fun way to spend your evening, with some awesome performances from these current (or soon to be) Hollywood icons.
Ocean’s 8 is currently in cinemas.