Aida Vucic | 07/06/2018
Ocean’s 8 is an excellent example of a spin-off done well. Avoiding blatantly copying and pasting the entire synopsis of its predecessor, and making just one too many references to the original, it’s perfectly balanced; and with performances from its leads that are on point, it’ll leave you eager for the next instalment.
The title itself is synonymous with a heist story, centred around a band of uniquely skilled individuals pulling off the impossible. Ocean’s 8 follows the same formula as it’s three predecessors, only replacing the previously majority male cast with an all-female ensemble. The group may have fewer members, but they have just as much star power, if not more! Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is Danny’s little sister, and con artist profession is seemingly hereditary in this family, as the film starts with Debbie being released from prison after her arrest five years earlier from a con gone wrong. But she’s spent those five years wisely, mastering and perfecting the perfect heist. The only thing left is recruiting a crew. Convincing her sidekick Lou (played by Cate Blanchett) proves to be easy given the bounty, but the job requires an array of skills, including a designer (Helena Bonham Carter), a stay-at-home mum/fence (Sarah Paulson), a hacker (Rhianna), a pocket picker (Awkwafina), a jewellery maker (Minding Kaling) and an unaware marionette (Anne Hathaway).
So whilst we all expect the inevitable twist, and having spent the entire film speculating at every point, director Garry Ross manages to pull the rug under us and provide an unexpected end! This was no easy task and Ross had big shoes to fill stepping in from Steven Soderbergh, who directed the originals. What’s most appealing about the film is its upbeat energy, its slight sass and its incredible vivacity. This may be due to the feminine presence, or just due to excellent work refreshing a storyline that’s been recycled, but it works. The film feels fresh, fun and young, and most of all is able to nod to its predecessors while still subverting viewer expectations.
The minor plot holes can be forgiven, as they’re brushed over so quickly the audience has barely a second to consider the inconsistency. However, there are some of the leaps in the film that are a stretch for many of us, leaving us needing a bit more of a segue! Nevertheless, the performances from these women are undeniable good. Bullock and Blanchett are a stellar duo, bouncing off one another like they were twins at birth. Bonham Carter, too, is particularly good as the somewhat vague and lost fashion designer. She plays it more subtle than some of her other performances, and melds in perfectly with the ensemble cast.
It’s Rihanna’s hacker that lets the squad down, alas. Her somewhat nonchalant acting feels lacklustre, and she never really clicks in the way that, say, Awkwafina does. Anne Hathaway, too, is surprisingly good - returning to her former glory days as the “it girl” with a performance at times hateable, at others sexy and at even others endearing and funny.
In the end, it’s the way that all of these stellar individuals play off one another that makes Ocean’s 8 so damn good. Together, their formidable, witty, and daring, and that is also a perfect description for the film as a whole.
The original will always hold a special place in our hearts, but there’s room for this film too (and even a sequel if they’ll permit)!