For a while it seemed like female reboots were going to be the thing. Audiences wanted more female leads and Hollywood was lazy, it seemed like a perfect mix. But despite the civilised world wanting the female reboot of Ghostbusters to succeed just to spite the horrible sexists determined to ruin it, it ended up being rather naff and forgettable. And so Hollywood scrapped many of the female reboots that were surely in the pipeline should Ghostbusters have been a success. But some were already far enough into production that they were going to be released and Ocean’s Eight was one of them. But is it any good?
After being in prison for over five years, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock, Miss Congeniality) has had nothing but time to plan a big heist. After being released, she assembles her team so she can steal a $150 million necklace at the Met Gala.
While the heist is always the most fun part of the movie, and we’ll get to that, the secret to any great heist movie are the characters. And luckily we’ve got a great bunch here. Weirdly, the lead is one of the weakest as Debbie Ocean doesn’t have the most distinct personality compared to the rest of the group. However as she has the most reason for doing the heist, she sort of gets away with it. But the rest of the group are rather fun to be with. I know all Helena Bonham Carter (Les Miserables) does nowadays is be zany but she is very good at it and is very fun as fashion designer Rose Weil. Rihanna (Battleship) is suprisingly good as a hacker, the fact she’s believable makes it a huge improvement on some of her other performances. And Awkwafina (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) is a star in the making. She has got great physical comedy skills and just lurks in the background being consistently funny.
The best character however is Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables) who is just an absolute delight. They might as well have just had Anne Hathaway play herself because it feels like she’s just playing a heightened version of herself here. She gets all the best lines being this delightful Hollywood star who is unwitting about the heist going on around her. We all know that Hathaway is fantastic but she usually only gets to flex her comedy muscles in poor rom-coms which don’t make the most of her other than being the clumsy every girl. And also the The Princess Diaries but I can’t really moan that much about a movie that’s not aimed at me. But here she is great fun and shows how versatile she really is.
Now onto the heist itself which is as well executed as it could be. It has all the clichés you love from this genre. There’s the laboured set-up, the disguises, all the different little jobs that the characters are doing and of course seeing everything just click into place like a Rube Goldberg machine. However it lacks one thing. Peril. Never does it feel like the heist is about to go wrong. There are little things that awry but every issue that comes up whether it be a special lock on the necklace or a bus boy turned mule stopping for some chit chat, it gets sorted within seconds. The peril of the heist going wrong is half of the fun of these things and when it lacks that, it lacks that extra bit of something.
And that peril doesn’t exactly go up when it is revealed who is investigating the heist. James Corden (Into The Woods)! Yep, the detective, well the insurance agent but they are the same thing, is Corden. When he shows up you know that they are going to get away with it because this role isn’t written as an intelligent detective, he’s written as James Corden. And no, I’m not a James Corden hater. I think he is a funny person who has appeared in a lot of things I’ve liked. But he is hoplessly miscast here. The movie turns what should be the most tense part of the movie into a relaxing ride to the end. It’s so relaxing that you wonder why the movie doesn’t just end after the heist so you can get a jump on the traffic.
Well there is a reason that the movie continues. It needs to show off how smart it is. I can’t go into this too much for fear of spoilers but the big twist this movie has is that everything is far more amazing than you realise. And it caused a true swelling of anger in me. The movie was right in front of me being amazingly smug about itself and its characters, revealing something with a few breadcrumb clues but so out of nowhere that it feels very out of place. There’s just something about it which makes me really take a dislike to a movie that before that, I did enjoy to some extent.
There is plenty of fun to be had with Oceans Eight. The characters are fun, lively and just plain enjoyable to be around. The heist is also very well executed though it does lack that sense of peril which could have made it truly brilliant. But the movie really wrecks itself with that reveal at the end. It’s just such a smug move and one which puts itself on such a pedastal you start having this reactionary disdain towards the movie and all the characters you previously quite liked. But if you need a bit of high class thievery in your life, this’ll do in a pinch.