Movie Review: Ocean's 8

This female reboot lacks everything that made the originals work

Review: Ocean's 8 (Debbie a její parťačky)
Directed by Gary Ross
With Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson. Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter

The seeming endless trends for reboots is back in swing for the summer. Ocean's 8 uses a mainly female cast to put a spin on the male-dominated Ocean's Eleven trilogy of caper films from the 2000s.

And the Ocean's Eleven film released in 2001 itself was a remake of a 1960s film with Frank Sinatra, so a gender-switched reboot of a remake seems to be a rather unoriginal proposition.

The good news is that Ocean's 8 is not an unmitigated disaster like the laughless female rehash of Ghostbusters, released in 2016.

The bad news is that the caper is a crashing bore, and the team of thieves has very little onscreen chemistry. The humor only works in fits and starts, and the suspense is completely suspended. The title also contains a spoiler, or at least a hint of one, as the female gang has just seven members — the dialogue points out they are seven as well.

As with the original trilogy, the center of the plot is a big, impossible heist that has to be carried off with precision. But the plotting is just a bit too lazy.

Steven Soderbergh, who directed Ocean's Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen is credited as a producer this time. Directing chores were taken over by Gary Ross, who helmed the successful first installment of The Hunger Games, but also the mediocre horse race film Seabiscuit and time travel fantasy Pleasantville.

He does not capture the snappy mood needed to make Ocean's 8 feel like a ticking clock.

The motivation in the film is weak. Debbie Ocean (played by Sandra Bullock) just gets out of jail. She is the sister of Danny Ocean from the 2001–07 trilogy.

Debbie wants revenge against someone who helped put her in jail, but that is not the entity being robbed. The robbery victim is just that, a victim. The audience is given no reason to not to sympathize with the victim, and no reason to think that the actions of Debbie and her crew are in any way justified as anything but simple greed and destruction. They are not heroes in disguise, doing some sort of Robin Hood caper. Just thieves.

The trilogy relied heavily on witty dialogue, little character traits and tiny moments were the thieves revealed something about themselves, made their characters real.

The characters in Ocean's get no such fine points. They are painted in rather broad strokes.

Sandra Bullock does get to speak German for a bit. Her fans know she is actually a dual German-American citizen. But the script goes to the well of her shouting in stern German at people once or twice too often. And the strict German cliché is not that funny of a joke in the first place. The talented actress seems here like a one trick pony.

Cate Blanchett has been the best thing of many curious projects. As Lou, she gets lost in the shuffle with just a minor role in the heist and no defined traits to exploit. Lou and Debbie apparently go back a long way together, but their friendship on screen doesn't sizzle they way it should.

Two of the minor figures actually do make up a bit for the vacuum at the top. Pop star Rihanna has been trying to start a film career. She has been in 2012's Battleship and 2017's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, both of which tanked at the box office.

She plays Nine Ball, the team's computer hacker. She makes something out of the rather routine role and gives the sense that her character has someplace to go once her scene is over.

These hacker roles all rely heavily on the idea that computers are magic boxes. Rihanna says her lines like they all make sense and touches the keyboard like she knows what it is for.

Helena Bonham Carter, always great at playing slightly crazy people, is on board as fashion designer Rose Weil. She brings a comic touch to the surprisingly dry caper and creates a sense of eccentricity.

Watching her act is like looking at a glass on the edge of a table, waiting for it to fall but hoping it doesn't.

Some of the characters just plain don't work. Comedian and TV personality Awkwafina plays a pickpocket. She simply walks by someone and has stolen their watch. The audience sees no hint how. Obviously, it is just a film editing trick, and pure laziness again on the part of the writers and directors. She does this stealth robbery over and over as if it is somehow convincing, and somehow funny.

Anne Hathaway plays a celebrity very much like Anne Hathaway. She nails it, unsurprisingly.

There is a big scene with lots of famous people, from Tommy Hilfiger to Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. Celebrity spotting almost overshadows the disappointing caper.

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