I went into Ocean’s 8 expecting a fun ride that would keep me occupied for a couple of hours, and that is what I received. What more can I honestly say? This is not a particularly deep film, nor one with much of a point to make, but if men can have these dumb escapist power fantasies, then God damn I’m happy we women apparently can too. It certainly won’t be making any best of 2018 lists for me, but I had a better time watching this than I have at nearly any other film this year, and that definitely counts for something.
As someone who has not seen any of the other Ocean’s films (though I will be getting on that shortly), I was not at all missing the presence of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, or anyone else. Instead, I was delighted to see talents like Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling and Helena Bonham Carter share some great onscreen chemistry together. Even when the jokes didn’t really land, I could sense that every actress was having a fantastic time shooting the scene, and it greatly added to the fairly average dialogue.
The plot to Ocean’s 8 is as straightforward as you can get. They assemble a team, they plan the heist, they attempt the heist. I’m trying not to give away spoilers here, but I could probably have wrote down what I thought would happen before going in and my predictions would likely have been correct. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t detract from anything, because the real reason anyone is seeing this is for some cool setpieces, and some snazzy, over the top cinematography and editing.
The latter of which we undoubtedly received. This is the slickest film of the year, the camera gliding through New York City like an old local, quickly spinning and tracking in a way that brings you along for the ride. The editing is quick and sharp, though sometimes verges on showboating; there is only so many times the scene can transition by spinning the frame until you start to feel reminded of PowerPoint presentations you made in 2006. There is also sometimes a tendency to zoom in on important aspects of the mise-en-scene, despite how obvious they may be, which whilst not quite grating can feel a little condescending.
Do I think this film is feminist? In the same way that I think anything with an all-female cast and not much else is feminist. I’m pleased that there is representation for women and particularly women of colour, but the film doesn’t make any clear comments on the subject. This is refreshing, but simultaneously I feel like audiences need to be challenged more to accept changes like this. Jane Campion’s The Piano features a mostly male cast, but it can undoubtedly be called a more progressive and helpful film than Ocean’s 8 in depicting women’s struggles onscreen. After all, this franchise is definitely in the realm of fantasy and escapism, with very few references to any genuine struggles faced by women
If you want to see a lighthearted, entertaining, and stylish movie, definitely check this out when you can, If you are looking for a film that demands equality and raises issues previously unheard of in the blockbuster action genre, then you may want to look elsewhere.