Director: Gary Ross.
Cast: Sandra Bullock / Cate Blanchett / Mindy Kaling / Anne Hathaway / Sarah Paulson / Richard Armitage / Rihanna / Helena Bonham Carter / Awkwafina / James Corden.
Score: Daniel Pemberton.
Cinematography: Eigil Bryld.
Content Advisory: PG13 for drugs, mild language, and some suggestive content.
I have been ecstatic about this film since the day it was announced. Even when the critics didn't like it, I floated on a cloud of rose-tinted expectation. It just sounded too perfect to fail.
The cinematography is brilliant, atmospheric, and very appropriate to the story and setting it explores. The soundtrack is punchy, and the costumes are absolutely divine. I love how each outfit is so thoughtfully chosen for the character wearing it - considering that the script doesn't give much in terms of character depth and development, the costumes are very much needed. They're colourful, elegant, and speak volumes about the characters' personalities. Each piece is entirely on point.
The script is far from perfect. The writing isn't witty, particularly clever, or humorous, and as for the plot, there's very little tension or thrills. It lacks brilliance and intelligence. I also think that the "con within a con" aspect, which is to be expected from any good heist movie (and works beautifully in Ocean's Eleven), falls flat because it's sloppily implemented and rushed. I was never totally sold on the "big twist", simply because of the way it was executed.
There's also no real threat, or at least there's not enough urgency. It's too casual. Obviously, the worst case scenario is that the characters go to prison, and yet that is never truly felt by anyone, except maybe with the exception of Debbie. The difference with her is that we're given her back story and we can feel sympathy for her because we know where she's coming from. With the rest of the characters, we don't actually see what they have to lose. Thus, the fact that they could be caught doesn't seem like a big deal.
The acting is excellent. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are effortlessly slick and smooth, Cate Blanchett is easily my favourite of the cast, and that restaurant scene between Debbie and Lou towards the start of the film is superb; when Blanchett asks "Why do you need to do this?" and Bullock answers 'because it's what I'm good at", I got goosebumps. The script is weak, but it's their delivery of the lines that makes the scene so powerful.
Unfortunately, though, the characters aren't well written. No one is three-dimensional, no one has any real depth, and the characters are pigeon-holed into their roles in the heist. There's the hacker, the fence, the jeweller, etc etc, and even the hints of backstory and personality we get to see aren't substantial. It's a huge waste; the actresses clearly have the range - now give them something with which to work.
Not even stunning visuals and wonderful female leads can pull off Ocean's Eight. It's a con without thrills, smarts, and urgency, which makes it nothing more than a casual action flick.