Cinema Dispatch: Ocean’s 8

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Ocean’s 8 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Gary Ross

I’ve never had much interest in the Ocean’s movies and even though I’m PRETTY sure I saw the first one, the only things I remember is George Clooney on a payphone in the beginning and everyone looking at a fountain at the end.  Needless to say that had they gotten the gang back together for Ocean’s 14, I’d have easily checked out and just went to whatever else was playing that week.  Recasting the entire thing with AMAZING actors in a sort of soft reboot though?  NOW you’ve got my attention!  Don’t always discount reboots, kids!  You’ll find one someday that’s right up your alley!  Does this latest entry in the franchise prove to be a necessary and extraordinary fresh start, or is the title the only thing worth remembering about this movie?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), who is the sister of the PRESUMABLY deceased Danny Ocean, getting out of jail on parole and IMMEDIATELY starting up her life of crime once again; scamming stores, sneaking into other people’s hotel rooms, and of course getting ready for her BIG score.  Yes, the one she’s been planning ever since she went inside and is chomping at the bit to get started on.  After all, who wants to ENJOY their freedom when they can just risk it all on a foolhardy heist!?  Speaking of hardy fools, she also reaches out to her old crime buddy Lou (Cate Blanchett) who’s been holding her own but clearly anticipating Debbie’s next big score, and the duo start to lay down the groundwork as well as scope out some new talent who can pull this whole thing off.  So what is the heist you may ask?  There’s this SUPER expensive necklace valued at about one hundred and fifty MILLION dollars that’s sitting in a vault somewhere which is such a shame because it could be going to better use, like enriching a bunch of thieves who are smart enough to figure out how to steal it!  For this to work they’ll first need a patsy to get their hands on the necklace so that they can steal it from HER, and who better to use than one of the most famous actors on Earth, Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway)?  To convince Miss Kluger to use the necklace for her ensemble that evening AND THEN to steal it right off of her neck, Debbie and Lou will need a crack team made up of expert jewelery forger Amita (Mindy Kaling), street hustler Constance (Awkwafina), desperate fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), MOVIE HACKERTM Nine Ball (Rihanna) and retired fencer Tammy (Sarah Paulson).  Wait, that’s only seven.  Hmm… maybe there’s more to this plan than even WE know!  Can Debbie and her crew pull off this heist without a hitch?  What could Debbie be hiding from the rest of the team, and could the secrecy cost them everything?  Is this yet another awesome and well-made movie for the internet man-babies to cry about because there are too many ladies in it!?  Well I sure hope so!!

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“Hashtag Feminism, BRO!!”

I was expected this to be just fine, but I was not prepared for just how fantastic this ended up being!  It’s slick, it’s fun, and it’s got an amazing cast that’s large yet still well handled so that no one feels out of place or underutilized.  It’s got the fun puzzle box nature of a good heist film where you’re watching all the little pieces interlock together in ingenious and creative ways, but it’s also flashy and full of bombast where these characters aren’t just professionals doing a job but are SO professional they can practically do it with their eyes closed.  Its s film with a lot of confidence; so much so that things that might seem cloying or contrived in a lesser film are beautifully executed and always a joy to sit through here.  Just how good is this movie?  It makes me want to go back and watch the previous films (something you don’t have to do to enjoy this film by the way) which I’ve never had the inclination to do before, though I’m gonna take a guess here and say that this will end up being my favorite one.

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“George WHO, now?”

There’s nothing that’s SPECIFICALLY exceptional about this film, rather it manages to do pretty much everything right and is constantly firing on all cylinders.  The characters are an absolute delight to watch with one of the most impressive ensemble casts we’ve gotten in a while; even giving Infinity War a run for its money, though admittedly that had WAY more to juggle even with its longer run time.  It certainly helps that the script always has them doing something fun or interesting as it rarely wastes a moment simply expositing at the audience or going through simple pleasantries.  Again, the key here is confidence as every character takes any opportunity they have to show off, whether it’s Rihanna and Awkwafina proving themselves by demonstrating their impressive talents, or sometimes just Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett looking cool for the camera.  Heck even Helena Bonham Carter as the least prepared and with possibly the most to lose manages to steal scenes as she awkwardly stumbles her way into success!  It’s a tight production all around and until the closing moments of the film (once we get to the WHAT A TWIST MOMENT) they do a very good job of covering their tracks and making the heist as believable as possible within the world that they set up.  Something like Logan Lucky, while still good, had a lot of fluff to it and the heist kind of dragged on a bit.  This on the other hand doesn’t bother with ANY of that and simply delivers on its simple yet brilliantly executed premise.

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“Wait, how did you even DO that!?”     “I hacked into the mainframe.”     “I’m pretty sure that’s not a thing.”     “Oh?  Do YOU want to tell me how I did it?”     “…Keep up the good work.”

And yes, the fact that this is an all-female cast is a significant aspect of this and it’s honestly a WAY better movie because of it.  That’s right, Ghostbusters are now all women and so are super slick criminals!  Actually I haven’t really heard much backlash against this movie despite being an all-female entry in a franchise dominated by men, so it’s either a sign of progress for humanity or the franchise doesn’t have the same kind of fans that would throw tantrums over Leslie Jones sporting a proton pack (or Kelly Marie Tran just… existing I guess).  Either way, it’s rather refreshing to see a heist film where women are centered and aren’t just a token on a team of dudes or hopelessly objectified for the male gaze.  Now flash and style were part of the previous films (at least I ASSUME so considering who’s in the cast and by watching trailers), but it’s very elegant and classy here which goes along with the power fantasy of the movie; namely the vicarious thrill of going along with this crew of very talented people on a convoluted scheme that shows just how smart they are how much fun it is to be them.  I mean when was the last time we got that kind of movie which not only a female cast but does it from a female perspective?  Even examples of films in this vein such as Sucker Punch and Spring Breakers are still predominately shot from a male perspective, and ESPECIALLY in both of those cases is SUPER revealing of the men who directed them.  This may still have a male director in the form of Gary Ross, but it’s also co-written and co-produced by women (Olivia Milch and Susan Ekins), and it’s very clear that everyone behind the camera was just as invested in making this as sensationally fun film for women (as well as dudes who don’t have to have EVERYTHING catered to their gaze constantly) as the actors in front of the camera were.

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I mean since half the Avengers are dead anyway, why don’t we get THEM to fill in?  They can probably steal that glove right off Thanos’s hand!

Are there any flaws?  Well sure if you look deep enough, but they’re barely even worth bringing up when a movie is as fun as this.  The only consistent issue I had is that there was a lack of tension which made the heist scenes still fun to watch but not quite as gripping as they should be.  We don’t have an ACTUAL antagonist for the crew to contend with or even that much motivation to do this beyond getting rich.  There’s one dude who’s an asshole and was somehow responsible for getting Debbie thrown in jail in the first place (though I was kind of unclear on how exactly despite there being a flashback telling us all about it), but he leaves such a small impression on the film that you can’t really get excited for whatever his fate may be and you’re CERTAINLY not scared that he’ll throw a wrench into the crew’s flawless plan.  He’s just another hurdle for Sandra Bullock to effortlessly overcome which I’ll grant is very satisfying in its own right, but I still wish there was a bit more chaos or some necessary improvisation here and there to spice things up and make it that much more cathartic whenever they score another victory.

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*Knock* *Knock* *Knock*     “OCCUPIED!”     “You’ve been in there for forty minutes!”     “Don’t eat the shellfish, alright!?”

This movie knows exactly what it wants to be and it executes it flawlessly, and even if I did find places where I felt some of its ambitions could have been set a bit higher here, I won’t deny that this is one of the bets experiences I’ve had in a movie in some time.  There’s really nothing else here besides great acting, good set pieces, and a whole lot of laughs, but that’s hardly a knock against it considering it succeeds at all of that which is way more than most films can deliver on.  I absolutely recommend going to see this if you’ve been burnt out on more serious blockbusters like Infinity Wars or even Deadpool 2 which got pretty real at points (especially towards the end), and it’s light and breezy tone along with its very swift pace keeps things rolling and keeps you entertained all the way through.  Still, if this starts getting sequels and we go all the way up to Oceans 10, what the heck are they gonna do then? Are we gonna all the way back to Oceans 2 where it’s just Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett scamming bingo halls and state fairs?  Actually, that sounds amazing!  Let’s do that one right now!!

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