A rallying cry for long-awaited gender equality is growing in strength off the back of the ongoing #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Beginning in 2017 with the infamous Harvey Weinstein scandal that set off a nationwide campaign, our screens have been filled with the faces of countless courageous women who have stood up and spoke out against sexual harassment – past and present – by men abusing positions of power.
Empowered by the voices of a community tired of victimization, women across America (and throughout the world) continue to push for equality, which disturbingly is still not something wholly allocated to both sexes in the United States Constitution. As an era of change sparked by pent-up frustration over predatory behavior charges forward, the lack of principal female representation in classicly male-dominated industries is finding itself under scrutiny. Predictably, one of these paternally governed institutions is, in fact, the old stomping ground of Weinstein himself – Hollywood.
Which is why when a high-profile movie like Gary Ross’s Ocean’s 8 boasts an all-female leading cast – a rarity in the entertainment world – we should all rush to see it. Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, and Rihanna, the newest member of the Ocean’s franchise succeeds in its attempt to re-engage an old concept in a mighty way.
Elaborately thought out heist? Check. A slew of distinctively talented criminals with genius-like abilities? Check. One cunning but engrossing mind running the operation? Checkmate. Ocean’s 8 entertains for its committed runtime of nearly two hours, thanks to the star power, production dexterity, and an action-packed plot. The highlight of the whole flick is in a more discreet detail, which too many films nowadays fail to remember to include – the story doesn’t stop moving. Keeping you on your toes, screenwriters Gary Ross and Olivia Milch do a bang-up job of never failing to provide a promise of substance behind every turn.
“…fresh out of the slammer and has spent the past five years meticulously planning the most elaborate heist of her life.”
Motivated by money (and a slice of vengeance, because who wouldn’t be keen to throw their conniving, traitorous ex-boyfriend into jail?), Debbie Ocean (Bullock) is fresh out of the slammer and has spent the past five years meticulously planning the most elaborate heist of her life. She’s not even free from incarceration more than a few days before pulling longtime friend and confidante Lou (Cate Blanchett) into her fool-proof scheme.
From there, the women recruit a team of assorted experts to help them steal a diamond necklace worth hundreds of millions right off of the neck of Daphne (Anne Hathaway), a narcissistic celebrity hosting the upcoming Met Gala. Bullock, Blanchett, and Hathaway are all equally phenomenal in their respective roles, a perception strengthened by the amusing dynamic between the other members of the heist group. Most notable of these is the enthusiasm of oddball fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter) and playful stone-connoisseur Amita (Mindy Kaling), as the two play off each other in a scene at a Cartier jewelry store. Rihanna as Nine Ball, a nonchalant computer hacker, also adds a level of radiance to the incandescent gem that is the Ocean’s 8 cast.
Ross and Milch offer a gratifying two-dimensional screenplay structure for the ladies on-screen to bring off the page. Their only fault is the kryptonite to most movie re-makes: cliches, aplenty. There isn’t much original thought in this storyline, which unabashedly copies the mold of its Clooney-starring predecessors. This lack of individuality downplays the impact of Ocean’s 8 as an unfortunate consequence.
“…powerhouse ladies of this film have proven that talent is talent, no matter the gender.”
Where it lacks a fresh new perspective on a tale as old as time, the motion picture waves a new notion in our faces; successful movies made for all audiences that are about women. The chemistry between the Ocean’s 8 ladies proves that in an industry with plenty of all-male leading casts, but very little female ones, we are in dire need of the latter.
This re-boot is both parts thrilling and timely. It’s not fantastic or redefining by way of subject matter, but that could be attributed to the quiet symbolism of a male-dominated industry wading tentatively into new territory: the era of women. What’s also clear is that Gary Ross and Warner Bros. didn’t take any chances with the direction of this feature, and one could only assume that may have to do with Hollywood’s unspoken fear that a female-driven principal movie will tank unless it follows a tried-and-true cinematic formula. Let us hope that due to the meaningful performances in this remake, such an impression evolves from its antiquated view.
A comical, lively watch with a deeper implication, Ocean’s 8 should justify to everyone that the industry no longer needs the likes of a Clooney, Pitt, and Damon equivalent team to carry a big blockbuster spectacle. Instead, we should be demanding to see more Bullock, Hathaway, and Blanchett squads at the helm. The powerhouse ladies of this film have proven that talent is talent, no matter the gender.
Oceans 8 (2018) Directed by Gary Ross. Written by Gary Ross and Olivia Milch. Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter.
8.5 out of 10