Coming off of just watcing the original “Ocean’s 11” recently, I can honestly say that I’m not much of a fan of the series. The remake is fun and enjoyable, if only because of the cast interactions and the elaborate heist that feels like it could go south at any moment. The problem with the heist formula is that it’s rather predictable – once you’ve seen one heist, you’ve seen most of them.
The idea of a group of skilled criminals planning the biggest score of their careers has been done so many times that it’s now more about how these criminals bounce off each other and how they plan to achieve their goals, which makes heists perfect for summer blockbusters. Enter Gary Ross’ “Ocean’s 8” and its cast of all female heisters as they attempt to steal the most expensive diamond necklace from fashion’s most illustrious event at the Met, which doesn’t stray from its predecessors, but rather just leaves an overall underwhelming impression.
Like the films before it, “Ocean’s 8” relies heavily on style and the charisma of its main cast of characters, in particular its three leading players, played by Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway. Bullock and Blanchett work well off of each other, like sisters that want to always want to outclass each other in one way or another. Hathaway, on the other hand, plays the dim-witted celebrity that is the target of the heisters to achieve their goals, and she plays the role as wonderfully as you would expect. Every other player has a couple moments to shine, especially Helena Bonham Carter as an aging fashion designer and Rihanna as the tech-savvy hacker, but nothing too outstanding.
The problem with “Ocean’s 8” is that it never goes all in on style and overwhelms us with its presence. Everything is played quietly and without any flare or pizzazz, when they could so easily done this with the film being set in the middle of New York City and in the middle of the Met. The cast never really gels together, outside of Bullock and Blanchett, and there aren’t any laugh-out-loud moments because everything is played by-the-numbers.
However, the upside to “Ocean’s 8” is that the heist is rather unpredictable, especially given its a jewel heist of a different sort. It’s not your typical robbery where they have to break into a high-tech vault, but instead it’s basically pickpocketing a necklace without drawing any attention. I never knew where the heist was going and there are enough twists and turns to keep everyone guessing how they’re going to get away with it.
This strange combination of a unique heist setup and a lack of chemistry amongst its cast makes “Ocean’s 8” one that never quite gets its act together to be a truly fun picture. When it focuses on Bullock and Blanchett or when dealing with the inner workings of the heist, the film is at its best. But beyond that, the movie just coasts its way through like everything is on autopilot. While the film is smooth, cool and smart enough at points, the style is severely lacking at other points to make “Ocean’s 8” a rather underwhelming experience.
Final Grade: C+