Ocean’s 8 hits theaters this week. Gary Ross’ film has potential with an all-star cast, but Sandra Bullock and company can do only so much with a bland narrative.
Is Ocean’s 8 worth your time and money? Yes. Are there flaws? Yes. Did I fall in love with Cate Blanchett’s character, Lou? Absolutely!
What worked exceptionally well — and prompted the above questions — is the film’s casting. The fourth film in the Ocean’s franchise stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter. Each character is so perfectly flawed with their own problems that you can’t help but get attached to them in the film.
The Ocean’s films have long had a ’60s glamour, and Bullock carries the torch proudly. She dominates her screen time and demands your attention. As an actor who’s often played the damsel in distress or the awkward one, Bullock goes for it as Debbie Ocean, the sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean.
The actor that took me off guard and inspired a newfound appreciation is Blanchett. I know she’s won two Oscars, but she’s never been on my radar. Her character, Lou, is a silent badass that gets the job done. Blanchett crushed it in Thor: Ragnarok and now in Ocean’s 8. The selfish person in me wishes she traded in a few of the Oscar-nominated performances for brainless action films. Blanchett is a great actor and dominates whatever genre she is put in. Ocean’s 8 needs to do well at the box office simply so Lou’s story continues.
Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter all put in great performances too. Awkwafina’s performance will earn her mainstream attention, and rightfully so.
The faults in the film sit in the hands of Ross and co-screenwriter Olivia Milch. The script is generic and builds no tension. One of the essential parts of any heist film is the thrilling caper. At no point in this movie are you on the edge of your seat because someone is going to get caught. Furthermore, every curveball that was thrown at Bullock’s crew to make the heist harder was easily fixed with a gadget and/or a few lines of dialogue. As the director, Ross needed to be hammering away at the tension, and he did not.
Overall, Ocean’s 8 is a stylish character-driven film that is worth the price of admission but sadly won’t build lasting memories.