One of the greatest travesties is this film not being christened Oceans 50 Plus, given the innumerable amount of issues that Warner Brothers have to answer for here. Females in the film industry have been crying out for years and more prominently in recent months, largely due to the conversational dominance of #MeToo but unfortunately Oceans 8 does no justice to the cause that desperately needs its service. The marketing tagline was ‘every con has it’s pro’s’ but read on to examine why the inverse is true.
1. Underdeveloped female stance:
Hollywood is abrash with underdeveloped female characters and Oceans 8 did no favours. The playground chant of what boys can do, girls can do better is lost in a sea of similarity here, as Oceans 8 reveals itself to be a carbon copy of Clooney’s movies with far less fun involved. There is nothing of essence, no courage or conviction that indicates that only women could have made this film. Change the character names and pronouns and you’ve got a film that’s virtually indistinguishable in style, content or viewpoint from it’s male-centered predecessors.
2. Non-existent Comedy
It’s understandable that a jewelry heist from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a serious enough escapade that commands a certain degree of gravity, but by God do you need a smattering of laughs throughout. Comedy truly is few and far between here, with jokes and jibes failing to land despite the star power of the female cast.
3. The Script. The Script. The Script.
Hitchcock’s old adage still applies and Hollywood’s inaptitude towards the written word still bears fruit as highlighted here with this unrefined, inept drivel. It begs the question as to whether Warner Brothers even bothered with a second draft? The fragmented characterisations that are a staple of ensemble cast movies like this mean that there’s less room for manoeuvre: characters must succinctly communicate their personality in a short timeframe and this script doesn’t allow any remnants of individuality to shine through.
4. Uninspiring direction:
Swipe cuts and rip-off mission impossible music galore, such is customary for a 21st century heist, but the caper is encompassed by lacklustre directional style and an absence of suspense. Instead of using the drip-drip of information to reveal their tactics, the audience are shown exactly the avenues they will take, leaving no room for the coveted feeling of suspense.
5. Helena Bonham Carter’s Irish accent:
Watching this in a theatre filled with Americans meant that her dire attempt mostly fell on deaf ears but for the Irish in the audience this was a massive red flag. For an actor of her calibre, it was a shame to see the leprechaun-inspired, Julia Roberts accent from Michael Collins return to the screen.
6. The Thinning Plot:
The heist part and its organization leading up to it is admittedly standard: Rihanna banging away at her keyboard and Bullock charming her old con comrades to join her barmy troop of criminals. The ending doesn’t tie together, in fact it favours the show and tell formula in that despite no indication of such events we must believe its true because they say it is. In other words, the audience must bend to the plot rather than vice versa.
7. Laziness – of virtually everything on screen;
Script, direction, uninspiring cameo appearances (Please resist from screaming Ladies and Gentlemen that was in fact the back of Kim Kardashian’s head). This ineptness extends to the content of scenes which we’ve seen time and time again. In one scene, Bullock and Blanchett recruit a pickpocket character from Queens, played superbly by Awkwafina, a relative newcomer on the periphery of the 8 who steals the show with her delivery. They meet in a toilet and she passes the two pack leaders before returning despondently to their sides with both of their watches. It would be too predictable to do a pickpocket gag with a pickpocket wouldn’t it? Evidently nothing is too elementary for Oceans 8.
8. James Corden
This English rose is past his sell by date in terms of playing characters like the average Joe Soap down the pub. He’s an international late night show host in the US these days with glorious star power and his presence on screen feels out of date and forced.
On a recent trip to New York, we stumbled on a hipster-chic restaurant in the West Village, affectionately named Jack’s Wife Frieda. On entering the establishment, to our amusement the WiFi network Name was called ‘Frieda’s Husband Jack.’ They’d cleverly inverted the name, but essentially they were referring to the same thing. Just as Frieda had claimed her territory over the wifi network, the women of Oceans 8 merely took on a different working title. The substance and subject matter was the same as before.
Oceans 8 painfully highlighted how they’d done the heavy lifting in terms of acquiring a stellar cast and pumping money into worldwide marketing campaigns. None of this palaver softened the blow, no paradigms were turned on their heads – everything remained just as it had always been. Maybe more people were praising the superficial upending of a formula, but at the end of the day Oceans 8 didn’t challenge any conventions; it succeeded only in perpetuating them, all the while hiding behind a curtain of bravado. They had an entire ocean of opportunity to change the format and hit another zeitgeist, but maybe this just isn’t the film to do it.