Imagine going to a concert expecting to get new songs and material, but instead receiving a greatest hits recording from the loud speakers. That's Ocean's 8, Gary Ross' entry into the world that Steven Soderbergh made cool and fresh 17 years ago.
When we first met Danny Ocean (George Clooney), he was sitting in a chair at his parole hearing. Guess how we meet Danny's sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock) in Ross' film? Parole hearing in a chair isolating the actress.
Everything in Ocean's 8 reminds you of Soderbergh's films. It's almost like Ross watched those movies and crafted this film, which includes a complete female cast, from the viewing. Was this the point? Is there a team-up film down the line between both gangs? Probably not, which makes me more disappointed in this latest feature.
Debbie gets out of jail after a long stint (familiar), and wants to take a big score right away (familiar). She immediately connects with Cate Blanchett's Lou, her main partner in crime. Basically, Brad Pitt's Rusty Ryan for Danny. They put together a team of thieves with their own trick of the trade, whether it's gadgets (Mindy Kaling), computer savvy playing (Rihanna), pick-pocket (Awkwafina), the fence who can get anything (Sarah Paulson), and a distracting dressmaker (Helena Bonham Carter).
Their mark: a Cartier diamond necklace, which is worth over $160 million and will be draped around the beautiful neck of actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at a New York gala.
There's intricate details, a few twists and turns, but do we really have any doubt on how the score is going to play out? Is there ever any doubt? No, and that's fine. It's just disturbingly similar to the earlier films.
I'm not kidding, folks. The music is the same. The way the film is shot is the same. The camera angles, zoom in and zoom out methods, etc. It's a tribute film and not an original piece of entertainment. This is not fine.
Ocean's 8 is entertaining fluff and will kill time, but with the talent involved and the franchise expectations, I expected more, so I was disappointed. The derivative nature wasn't pleasing.
The cameos are even lame. If you are going to attach yourself at the hip to Soderbergh's (who is a producer) films, at least lean into it and get some bigger names. Clooney's Ocean is referenced about six times, but you couldn't pull the semi-retired actor out for a phone call or quick cameo? Brad Pitt can play the Vanisher for a split second in Deadpool 2, but he can't give a couple minutes.
If you are going to lean on those films in every manner possible and have a couple cameos from the lower end of the cast, get serious and just bring the two worlds together as one. This was irritating.
Bullock almost saves it, because she is so good, but every line Blanchett uttered reminded me of Pitt's Ryan. A plot point midway through the film will make eyes rolls because it's so similar to Ocean's Eleven maneuver. The rest of the cast is fine while Hathaway tries to shine up the material as much as she can with mixed results.
I imagine Gary Ross and New Line Cinema asking Soderbergh and Warner Brothers for the rights, showing them their ideas and execution-and the latter group simply asking for a check before downing a few glasses of scotch and laughing uncontrollably.
There's no originality in Ocean's 8 and that's not cool. Sure, it's funny in parts and has a final scene whose somber tone didn't really fit the movie, but it's a forgettable experience.
Did I scream for my money back? No. Bullock can lead any train and is gorgeous.
Is it a bad movie? No. The Ghostbusters remake was bad, and this isn't close.
Ocean's 8 is just old-fashioned fluff, which is fine if your expectations are measured. It doesn't just pull a page from the old book; the screenplay literally copies every single page, even down to the double-cross and late bait and switch.
It's safe play by the filmmakers, which will make lots of money and spawn a sequel or two, but didn't really impress me as much as I thought it would. I wanted these strong ladies to create their own world instead of merely tracing someone else's steps.
Maybe next time. Perhaps the sequel will walk on its own two feet instead of recycling older goods.