Review: ‘Oceans 8’ has great potential but falls short

Review: 'Oceans 8' has great potential but falls short

Courtesy Warner Bros.

By Sam Rodd, Entertainment Editor

With a star-studded cast, a fun heist and a new and refreshing lineup of criminals to carry the story along, “Ocean’s 8” is a movie with so much potential. Yet for all that, the film feels uninspired, like those involved didn’t put any love into it when the movie was being made. “Ocean’s 8” relies so much on its brand that the production team forgot to develop a voice for this new entry into the franchise, resulting in a bland, choppy movie that could’ve been so much more.

“Ocean’s 8” follows Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), who begins to put together a team of women to steal a $150 million necklace from the neck of a high-class celebrity Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) as she attends the Met Gala. Ocean’s team consists of right-hand woman Lou (Cate Blanchett), hacker Nine-ball (Rihanna), disgraced fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham-Carter), sleight-of-hand master Constance (Awkwafina), their fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson) and diamond-expert Amita (Mindy Kaling).

With such a star-studded cast, the characters should be memorable, yet the opposite is true. Leading lady Bullock’s performance isn’t captivating or engaging in the least. The writers of the movie seemed to have relied on the fact that Bullock plays the sister of George Clooney (lead of earlier films in the franchise) rather than giving her a fully fleshed out character. By the end of the film, Debbie Ocean is static and unchanged.

Blanchett’s performance is passable. The scenes she does alone or with another actor prove to be fun and captivating. However, many of her scenes with Bullock lack chemistry. This is a shame, as most of her scenes are with Bullock. 

The rest of the heist crew—with the exception of Sarah Paulson and Rihanna, who are decent but not incredibly memorable—barely feel like characters. They’re all very one-note, and the attempts to portray them feel forced. 

Anne Hathaway gives the only stand-out performance. Unlike most of the actors, Hathaway really commits to her part and has fun with it. Whether or not she’s meant to be, Hathaway is the star of every scene she’s in. Her performance is a delight to watch in this otherwise unimaginative film.

This movie also drags on for far too long. The actual heist is fun and intricate, but everything before feels like padding, as if the moviemakers are killing time by introducing situations without any real tension. After the heist sequence, the movie goes on for another half hour or so, and we spend several minutes following a completely new character. This drastic change is jarring and pulls the viewer out of the movie. Despite the fact that the audience has probably given up by this point, the sequence continues. For a movie that is two hours long, padding and confusing scenes are a surefire way to bore the audience, which is not what any movie, especially a heist movie, should be doing.

The film could have been edited by a middle schooler. Abrupt, cheesy, iMovie-esque transitions are frequent and ugly. Some of these transitions actually earned laughter  from some in the theater. Choppy editing is another of the movie’s big flaws. Had a little more work been put in, the movie would have flowed better and been more enjoyable.

“Ocean’s 8” is an unfortunate example of squandered potential. With a star-studded cast and the name-value of a popular franchise, the picture could have been stellar. Unfortunately, no one really put in the effort, and the movie suffers for it. The characters (sans Hathaway’s) are bland, the story drags and pads much of its runtime, and the choppy editing keeps it from flowing. One fun heist sequence is not enough to save the film, so even recommending it to fans of the heist genre feels wrong. If you are absolutely attached to the Ocean’s franchise, then feel free to see this, but for everyone else, you won’t miss much by passing on this one.