Ocean's 8 - Review

Back in 2001, one of my favorite movies ever - Ocean's Eleven was released. It spawned two sequels, and in 2007's Ocean's Thirteen the group had their final send off. 11 years later, a new entry in the franchise is here. Ocean's 8 follows Daniel Ocean's sister. See how she faired in my review below. There will be slight spoilers throughout.

Ocean's 8 instantly felt like an entry into that franchise from the get-go. 8 and Eleven start the same way, with the Ocean siblings getting out of prison. After that, a lot of the shots were similar. Director Gary Ross made an effort to do similar shots to Soderbergh's films. There were two or three shots that if you told me Soderbergh framed and directed, I would have believed you.

The cast is great, they elevate the script to something better. There is a ton of exposition but it is fun to watch these characters talk to each other. The plot revolves around stealing something from the Met Gala, and as soon as you meet the characters, you want them to succeed in their plans.

The film is good. What keeps it from being great is the edit. Something gets lost in the edit. It isn't as smartly edited as Eleven and Twelve were. The movie is about as long as Eleven is, and they have less characters to deal with, but in some ways, it still felt like they needed more time to flesh things out a bit. The heist happens at the end of the second act, after they get away with it, we still have a whole chunk of the movie that wraps up the loose ends. It felt a bit anti-climactic, though ultimately satisfying.

There was a shot of Danny's grave in the trailer, and we weren't sure if it was a con or not. Turns out, neither does her sister Danny. We know what she does. Even when an old friend turns up to see her (one of two cameos in the film), it is still left ambiguous as to whether Danny Ocean is dead or not.

Which leaves the door open for future sequels. In an ideal world, Ocean's 9 would happen, then Ocean's 10 would be a mix of the two casts. That would be a lot of fun, to see the two casts interact with each other fully. They definitely know each other, as witnessed by the second cameo in the film.

I walked out of the theater feeling satisfied - the stakes were good enough. The balance between character development and story line teeters between strong and weak. When the character development is strong, the plot isn't. When the story line is, the character development suffers.

Being an Ocean's film instantly gives it a built in audience, but also hinders it in a way. If this was an unrelated heist movie - the comparisons do not happen. Because of the title, it is asking to be compared. There are a lot of similarities. Not just in the way that the movie is framed, but also the plot lines. Debbie did this heist to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend, where Danny pulled the Bellagio heist to get his ex-wife back. It is a great yin-yang balance. Their number two person - Rusty for Danny and Lou for Debbie - were very similar. Loyal, yet skeptical of the personal stake in the heist. It didn't feel completely organic, but didn't feel completely forced either. It fell somewhere in the middle, but works out in the end.

The "bad guy" is very one dimensional, and we don't get nearly enough depth to want to hate him like we do with Benedict, The Night Fox, or Bank. We are told to hate him because Debbie Ocean said so. (We do get a quick flashback as to why, but it was the bare minimum).

The three best cast members were Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Anne Hathaway. They stole all the scenes that they were in. They were all minor players - Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter are reliable as always, but just as Don Cheadle did in Eleven, any scene that Rihanna, Awkwafina and Anne Hathaway were in got instantly better.

There is certainly a future for this franchise, and I look forward to seeing what it is. I do believe mixing some of the old cast in is the right move, they set things up enough to make it feel organic.

Overall, I would consider Ocean's 8 a success. It could have used a bit more suspense, and maybe 10 more minutes to let the edit breathe some, but Gary Ross built a wonderfully fun heist movie.

I am happy to see one of my favorite franchises have new life, and am excited for what the future holds for the Ocean family and their friends.

Ocean's 8 is in theaters everywhere now.


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