After serving her time in prison, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), sister of Danny Ocean, is out and ready to set up a major heist. With her best friend and former partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett) in tow, the two establish an all-female team of pros including a jewellery maker (Mindy Kaling), street hustler slash pickpocket (Awkwafina) and tech genius (Rihanna) to carry it out. The job? To steal a necklace worth $150 million from Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at New York’s Met Gala.
All eyes have been on ‘Ocean’s 8’ since the project was announced. Expectations for it have been wary since the backlash against the female-led ‘Ghostbusters’ in 2016. While the female focussed spin-off to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy adapts much of its tone and sense of fun, it fails to accomplish its predecessors’ distinct wit, opting to play it safe and straightforward. One feels that in the hands of a different director-writer team – the task falling to Seabiscuit and The Hunger Games director Gary Ross, who co-wrote the script with new to the game Olivia Milch – something more interesting and boundary-pushing could have emerged. Still, there is much to like in the final product.
The film is, as said before, great fun for its majority, and there is no denying the sheer talent of its stellar cast. Anne Hathaway is fantastic, infusing her character with humour and likeability. Rihanna effortlessly exudes the nonchalant, suave attitude of the hacker she plays. Akwafina, while having a small role, holds her own in the big leagues, and Helena Bonham Carter (in spite of delivering an eye roll-inducing American interpretation of an Irish accent) gives her best performance in years.
Cate Blanchett adopts her natural Aussie accent for the role of Lou, but it ends up being somewhat distracting as influences of other accents make their way into her dialect. Sandra Bullock is an able lead, but Debbie Ocean is not a particularly interesting character. Mind you, with the screen time divided pretty evenly across the board, less developed characterisations don’t matter too much. The casting of James Corden as an even more obnoxious version of his James Corden self is less forgivable.
A pinch of anti-Russian sentimentality and Indian stereotyping provide some cringeworthy moments in the film and the twists are, unfortunately, rather predictable, lacking the ‘eureka!’ quality of the plot twists that were so great in Soderbergh’s trilogy.
‘Ocean’s 8’ can feel like it’s trying a little too hard to be cool. For the most part though, it’s fine. It just feels like there was a better movie to be made.