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‘Ocean’s 8’ (review)

Produced by Steven Soderbergh, Susan Ekins
Screenplay by Gary Ross, Olivia Milch
Story by Gary Ross
Based on Characters by
George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell
Directed by Gary Ross
Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett,
Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson,
Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter

 

I wasn’t sure I would but I enjoyed the new Ocean’s 8 film.

The first three Steven Soderbergh directed films are some of the most fun films my wife and I have watched.

They are constantly being rewatched and they are quoted so much by us that they are basically part of our everyday speech.

“I hear taupe is very soothing”

“Don’t call me a jackass”
“I just did call you a jackass”

“I’d never been to Belize”

“You’re all aces in my book”

“There’s water in the basement and the pilot light is out”

To name a few.

So when I tell you we love those films, it is almost not fair to compare his new installment with the others.

That was when I was very pleasantly surprised.

I really loved the cast, the cinematography and editing. I even enjoyed the heist and how it was pulled off. I thought the new cast fit easily into their roles and though not exactly copying the original casting in their characters talents and personalities the fine and talented actors make the parts their own.

Writer and director Gary Ross has brought together an all-star, extremely talented cast of actors. Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, Danny’s younger and equally talented and motivated con artist sister whom is just released from prison a la her brother in Ocean’s Eleven’s opening scene. Upon exiting she meets up with her long time associate and friend Lou brilliantly played by Cate Blanchett. Debbie then tells Lou of her brilliant plan that she has been running in her head for the past 5 years, 8 months and 12 days. Her plan is to steal a famous diamond Cartier neckless valued at over 150 million dollars which, right now lies in a vault. Her complex and layered ultimate goal is to get the expensive Cartier necklace on the neck of award winning actress, Daphne Kluger at the Met Gala so they can then steal it. Kluger is the perfectly cast Anne Hathaway. She is both funny and deliciously evil.

Then like her brother and his associate Rusty in the originals Debbie and Lou get to assembling a crew together. The crew they pick is, a jewelry expert, Amita, acted by the wonderful, Mindy Kaling, who lives with her mom and works at the family jewelers. Washed up thinly veiled Betsy Johnson-like fashion designer, Rose Weil, Helena Bonham Carter, in her best role since Marla in Fight Club. Rihanna as the cool hacker Nine Ball. And my personal favorite crew member, the fast talking, slight of hand expert, Constance, deftly played by Awkwafina. Finally, Tammy, the fence turned suburban house mom convincingly portrayed by Sarah Paulson. The team is slick, knowledgable and top of their game.

As you would expect from an Ocean’s film the plot is complicated though the twists and turns are not overly farfetched. With most heist films I am always fascinated on how they wind up pulling off their job and in Ocean’s 8 they deliver the goods. How the job is accomplished and the near misses and almost failures were a delight to watch.

The ladies slyly work the proverbial rooms like a well oiled machine and the final payoff, much like their predecessor’s. Very satisfying.

There was only one thing truly lacking here. While they got all the pieces right and played the game perfectly somewhere along the way I feel like there was something missing.

I think it was the banter of the original films. The undeniable chemistry the original actors had with each other in the original three Soderbergh directed films was almost sublime. They played off each other much like the really well practiced cons they portrayed. Those films felt like the comfy well worn shoes you love to wear and can slip on without untying, whereas Ocean’s 8 feels like the new three piece suit that hasn’t been broken in and still feels stiff and slightly uncomfortable even though all the measurements are correct.

I think it is that because in the three Soderbergh films the characters knew each other and even though they may not have worked together before their reputations preceded them. In this film they are mostly all strangers except a few of the ladies so the natural banter of good friends is gone. Should they do a second and third one that will return but as of this film it is the only thing missing to make it perfect.

If you like heist films and you are a fan of the previous three Ocean’s films this one is a fun and worthy addition to the lexicon. Danny, Rusty, Ruben, Saul, Linus, Frank, Basher, Livingston, Yen, and the Malloy twins, Virgil and Turk would be proud of what these women have pulled off and Danny Ocean’s crew would be happy to know that their successors are all aces.

The cameos, the glitz and the glamour are all there in spades, the costumes are fantastic and the mark is worthy of the name Ocean.

Like most Ocean’s movies I will want to watch this again as there is always something I missed the first time. I don’t know if it will be the oft quoted modern classic the original three films are to my wife and I but we came out of the film pretty satisfied that though the original crew is gone, this new one is a fine successor.

 

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