If empowerment was the goal,
it severely missed the mark.
In the age of female empowerment, Ocean's 8 could have led the charge for a new era of smart, resourceful, and capable thieves for a new generation of moviegoers. They could have showed us that adversity is only an opportunity to break through the barriers that stand in our way. Or, more specifically, the women of Ocean's 8 could have exhibited their resilience, strength, and wit as they devised ways to outdo the challenges of the heist, but also the ones unfortunately inherent to them as women in our culture. Instead, the conflict free triumph of this female band of thieves rings less of girl power, and more of the musclebound-macho-movie-tropes that originally alienated our female protagonists.
Simply put, nothing is earned in this film, everything just feels given, too easy, and unmemorable. Our cobbled together group of grifters face little to no opposition in the pursuit of their shimmering goal. And, in a glorious exhibition of Hollywood blasé, we’re essentially given the non-violent equivalent of an 80’s Action Star never running out of bullets in their gun to defeat their enemies. All without even so much as a scratch to show for it. This is the unfortunate case of Ocean's 8. Everything is so one-sided and stacked in our heroes' favor, that in the end, we're left to genuinely ask "who cares?", which ultimately does more harm than good for our culture and for women in the film industry.
Instead of propelling this to the forefront of the new post #METOO and #TimesUp era of entertainment, this female led foray into the Ocean's world simply falls flat.
If empowerment was the goal, then they severely missed the mark. And, if entertainment was also on the list, that too left a lot to be desired.
I really wanted this to work.
I really wanted to love this movie.
If this sounds harsh, its because I really wanted this to work. I really wanted to love this movie.
If you guys have listened to any of our episodes and/or you’ve read my last blog, you know that the Ocean's movies are like our zeitgeist. These films are like the underlying basis for our vernacular and how we communicate with one another on and off the show. So, to watch this movie lack all of the things that made those movies great without offering anything new or improving on the old...”it just, hurts."
Perhaps, they didn't want to rely too much, or at all--as is apparent in this film--to the things that made the other films great. Perhaps, they wished to pave their own way into our hearts in the same way that Danny, Rusty and Linus did before them. Unfortunately, the lack of a villain, conflict—or any opposition for that matter— and the shortage of smart, organic, and entertaining dialogue, allowed this film to drown in an ocean of boredom and indifferent nonchalance.
Of all the criminal activity at work, the most offensive is how poor this movie is written. We all know that good storytelling requires some type of conflict. In Clooney's Ocean’s movies, there was never a moment where things seemed easy. There was always some sort of threat looming. Whether that was from the film’s villains, that is, Tony Benedict, Toulour, and Willy Bank played by Andy Garcia, Vincent Cassel, and Al Pacino respectively. Or, from the team themselves. There was always room for error, whether from one certain individual or even as a group. There was never any certainty that any part of the heist would go as planned. The crux of the action came from our heroes battling back when their backs were against the wall. That’s what made these films entertaining; the fact that our heroes could lose.
The film itself, through its dialogue and playful banter between its characters made this point for us, because: "you lose focus in this game for one second, and someone gets hurt." But, in no point in Ocean's 8 did this statement seem true. At no point in this movie did these women appear hyper focused on their task nor did the possibility of someone getting hurt--whether physically, mentally or emotionally--ever become present. They all are just way too calm, collected and anticlimactically unfazed with the gravity of their heist.
We also never get the same magic and charm that made every bit of dialogue quotable in Ocean's 11, 12 and 13. It also never plays to their character's eccentricities and quirks. They terribly misuse the amazing cast assembled and do nothing to build their characters into more than their specific area of expertise i.e. Rihanna's Nine Ball is just the urban computer wiz, Mindy Kaling is (inexcusably) just the unmarried diamond cutter, and Sarah Paulson's Tammy is the stay at home mom with a compulsion to horde stolen goods only to sell them for herself. The story never builds on the foundations that these talented women lay, and in return all we get are placeholder characters who are way too good at what they do.
As expected, Sandra Bullock's Debbie Ocean and Cate Blanchett's Lou fare a little better, as they get the most camera time. However, they're both primed and left idle and never truly tap into the playful interconnectedness that Clooney and Pitt displayed as Danny and Rusty, hinting at a similar deep history between the two, but never quite reaching the heights of their male counterparts. Leaving much to be desired from two amazing talents. As one critic put it, "Ocean's 8 [is]...simply not up to the talents of its cast."
They also completely ignored the cryptic nuances of the "in the know" criminal lexicon and code words explored in the other films. That was one of the things I loved about the previous Ocean's movies. It was like taking a peek into this criminal underworld that we knew nothing about. But, the intrigue and mystery behind every con, possible hustle and scam helped to keep us engaged and wanting more.
is no Terry Benedict!
James Corden is the villain in this film. Let that sit there for a second...
Yeah, I don’t think I need to go any further on that. James Corden is no Terry Benedict.
This alone should keep you away from this movie.
In the end, the power of its stars far overshadows the movie’s script and we’re left with a disappointing maiden voyage into the female Ocean’s universe.