Ocean’s Eight is directed by Gary Ross, known for writing things such as Big (1988) and more recently The Hunger Games from 2012 and 2016s Free State of Jones, which he also directed. The cast of the film is its main asset, as Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and many other talented actresses have charming personalities. The relations between these characters feels vital to the makeup of the film. Ocean’s Eight continues on the franchise with references to the past trilogy and more specifically Danny Ocean (George Clooney), who ties in as the brother of Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock). Unfortunately I have not seen the Ocean films Steven Soderbergh directed for a while, so cannot remember plot details and characters clearly, but this did not detract from the film and while there are moments that call back to the past films, it is definitely not essential to have seen them before watching this one. As the trailers show, Debbie Ocean newly released from prison, bands together a group of women to carry out a heist at the Met Gala in New York.
Watching Ocean’s Eight, one element that stood out to me in the cinematography of the film was the editing by Juliette Welfling. The editing added to the glitz and glamour of the film and its stylistic nature, whilst also embracing the previous films in the franchise that take advantage of less commonly used transition effects between shots, such as split screens. This form of editing adds a snappy pace to the progression of the story and establishes a tone for the film, which is light-hearted and witty.
I appreciated this tone and the flow of the film, but thought that no real stakes were established. This is due to the fact problems that arise in this heist film are resolved too quickly and thus the element of danger and adversity feels non-existent. Added to this there were some reveals that did not add much to the film and perhaps more well-crafted, innovative scenarios could have been created to push the characters further and give the audience the opportunity to see change or growth in the characters. If the story had thrust the characters into situations that were more intense and less straightforward to solve, this could have allowed them the chance to develop and have more compelling arcs. Some characters felt like a caricature, such as Anne Hathaway’s Daphne Kluger. Though this feels ironic and purposefully done to exaggerate and ridicule the stereotype of the celebrity persona, it took me out of the film on several occasions.
As is to be expected from a huge ensemble, not every character has the opportunity to shine, but that is okay as the foundation of this film is cooperation and teamwork. Ocean’s Eight felt like a breeze to watch, it does not take itself too seriously and the chemistry between actors translates nicely on screen to give the franchise hope for the future. The film did not live up to its full potential, but was still a pleasant enough film.