Ocean’s Eleven was a hugely successful film in 2001. The Steven Soderberg directed film made almost 300 million dollars domestically (adjusted for inflation, per Box Office Mojo). It was also well received by critics and has become something of a classic. The star filled cast helped turn the successful film into a successful franchise with Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, by 2007 Warner Brothers had a billion dollar franchise on their hands. With all of this in mind it makes perfect sense to build on this franchise in today’s movie climate. The problem with any reboot/sequel is how do you make it fresh, especially if it’s been over ten years since the franchise had a movie and over 15 since the franchise started. The Ocean’s franchise decided to freshen things up with a prodimentaly female cast. For a franchise that hasn’t really paid much attention to its women (Julia Roberts is almost criminally misused in the first two films) this is definitely a new direction. The fresh concept wasn’t the only thing writer/director Gary Ross had to tackle. He also had to find a way to capture the essence of what made the Ocean’s movies so great, without just doing a remake. Fortunately, Ross, was most certainly able to do this.
There were a lot of things that made the Ocean’s trilogy (specifically Ocean’s Eleven) so great, but the biggest thing was that it was fun. Everything about that movie was fun. The characters, performances, camera work, music and even subject area were all fun. Ross was able to capture that and repurpose it from a different perspective. Ocean’s Eight is an incredibly fun film. It pays homage to its predecessors without copying them. It took some of the staples of the franchise, the aforementioned camera work and music, and tied that into a fun and modern story. The sharp dialogue and quick edits aided to the fun but none of this was overused. This all paid service to the most important aspects of this film, the cast and the heist itself. Both have to be fun. You have to equally want to be a part of the heist, while not having any idea on how that could be pulled off. That is the case here. Ross also put his spin on the franchise with the heist itself. Instead of it being a casino or bank, they were robbing a museum with the clever touch of actually only robbing one person. This is a brilliant twist because it’s a simple plot to set up and for the viewer to follow. Ross was able to pull this heist off in a way that was incredibly fun and nerve racking. The tension was thick throughout the heist because the stakes were clear and the characters matter. That simple fact leads to the movie not only being very good but a lot of fun.
As important as the heist is, it’s nothing without great performances and Ocean’s Eight is full of them. The cast that was assembled for this film is astonishing. The nominations between these women are countless and each one has found success in some form or fashion. What made them so great in this instance was simple, charisma. Each woman didn’t get a lot of time to shine and on the page there wasn’t a whole lot to their characters, they had the responsibility of bringing their character to life and making an impact on the film, and each did wonderfully. Ocean’s Eight is easy to watch because it is fun to watch and a large portion of that goes to their performances. This felt like a true ensemble because each role was important to the films success. The only performance that fell a bit short was Anne Hathaway (Daphne Kluger). It fell short because it was the only performance that didn’t feel genuine. Kluger is what famous people think regular people think famous people are like. It wasn’t tied to anything real and as a result it didn’t work. As great as the technical parts of this film were, it works because this cast works.
Ocean’s Eight can be boiled down to one word, fun. From countless celebrity cameos to an odd but effective soundtrack, everything about this film was fun. That’s what this film should be and with so many movies forgetting this part of the experience, that’s what this film needed to be.
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Gary Ross Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna & Helena Bonham Carter Release Date: June 8th Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 1 hour and 50 minutes Image Credit: CNN