'Ocean's 8' review: This feels slightly familiar

Ocean's 8

And by slightly, I mean very.

Almost 60 years after the original Ocean’s Eleven debuted back in 1960 — a film that really isn’t all that good to begin with — The Hunger Games director Gary Ross is ready to give us his take on the franchise with Ocean's 8.

Ross is also the director who made Free State of Jones, which was by all accounts a terrible movie, so who knows what we’re in for with this one.

Taking Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy and running in a new(ish) direction, Ocean’s 8 takes place after the events of Ocean’s Thirteen and follows the sister of notorious criminal Daniel Ocean (George Clooney), Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock).

Debbie has been in prison for the past five years after a heist went wrong. That’s right, this obsession for stealing things runs in the family, as all of the Ocean’s have some kind of criminal record at this point.

In this particular heist, Debbie was more or less set-up. It’s all a bit more complicated than that, but she ended up taking the fall for some people who should definitely not gotten away squeaky clean like they did.

And now that she’s out of prison, Debbie is looking for revenge.

Ocean's 8
credit: YouTube

Not straightforward revenge that you would see in literally any franchise, where she’d just show up at the guy’s door and punch him in the face or something like that. That would be way too easy. No, she has something much more elaborate and convoluted in mind — she’s going to set-up another heist and pin it on those who sent her to prison.

The prized item is a $150 million necklace that’s locked five miles underground and is nearly untouchable.

The plan is simple: fashion model Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) is going to borrow the necklace for an upcoming event at the Met Galla. After seeing the movie, still not entirely sure what this event is aside from a plot device. Basically, it just looks like an excuse for a bunch of rich white people to get together and have their picture taken so, hey, I guess maybe it is somewhat reflective of real life.

During the party, Debbie is going to find a way to get a minute alone with Daphne and switch out the necklace with a replica, all without her or her security guards knowing. Sounds easy-peasy, right?

Well, she’s going to need a team to do it. Cue a very generic Ocean’s montage as she gathers her right-hand man Lou (Cate Blanchett), diamond cutter Amita (Mindy Kaling), pit-pocket Constance (Awkwafina), computer hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), fashion expert Rose (Helena Bonham Carter) and Tammy (Sarah Paulson). For the life of me, I have no clue what Tammy’s role actually is.

credit: YouTube

As you might expect, there’s a lot of things that don’t go right and some double-crossings. This is an Ocean’s movie after all, and Gary Ross is determined to remind you of that fact in every single frame.

I’ll start out with a positive note, though — this cast is incredible and the chemistry that they have with each other is infectious. It almost feels like the whole cast are all close friends in real life, especially Bullock and Blanchett, as they know how to bounce off each other with witty dialogue that feels brings a certain amount of fun into Ocean’s 8. The best moments of the film aren’t when it’s trying to be all smart with its plot twists, but rather when it’s just the squad sitting at a table, talking.

While everyone is overall good, there are a few stand-outs. Bullock is always good at leading a film, and once again reminds us why she’s a star. Helena Bonham Carter, too, is always good at being weird and brought that kind of crazy personality that she’s known for along with her in this one.

The real standout, I think, is Anne Hathaway — an actress who got a lot of criticism around the time Les Misérables came out for being “so Hollywood,” and is now channeling all of that to show you just how “so Hollywood” she can be if she wants to.

Ocean's 8
credit: YouTube

Sadly, not everyone gets the same treatment. Lots of the characters in Ocean’s 8 don’t really get the proper amount of screen time and are basically just there because the title of the movie tells them that they need eight people. Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling and even Rihanna don’t get to do much more than sit in the background and add a few snarky comments every now again, which is especially sad when you consider how talented each of those actresses is.

That’s not the real problem with Ocean’s 8 though. The biggest issue is that I’ve seen this exact same movie three other times now — that being Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13.

Gary Ross is trying to give his best Steven Soderbergh imitation here, even though it’s painfully obvious he’s not as talented of a director. He’s following Soderbergh’s films to a fault, as they check off every single cliché in the book and you know every single plot twist that’s coming.

Which is fine if you just want a light heist film with some good chemistry. It’s enjoyable enough and I certainly didn’t hate myself while watching it — I was just really hoping for something new, especially when you have a cast that’s this talented and you could do so much with.

Ocean's 8
credit: YouTube

There’s nothing new here though. This is all repeated plot points from the first three films, stitched together to make a pretty average movie — one that also goes on too long, as you think the movie is ending only to find there’s another 20 minutes left and a surprise fourth act. Don’t remember the last time I saw a movie that actually had a fourth act.

I guess it really just comes down to what you’re looking for here. If you want to see a good cast sit around in a circle and plan a jewelry heist, then great, this is the movie for you. If you’re hoping that there’ll maybe be something a little more or that they’ll find a way to add something relevant to the other Ocean’s movies, then you’re going to leave disappointed.

Watch the trailer for Ocean’s 8 here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!

'Ocean's 8' review: This feels slightly familiar
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Brandon Schreur

The fella over there with the hella good hair. Movies and TV are my jam, and the fact that I get to write about them on a regular basis is the bees knees.

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