Ocean’s 8 steals a mixed bag of reviews: Here’s what critics are saying
Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling & Co.plotted to snatch a string of glistening gems in Gary Ross’ star-studded heist flick Ocean’s 8, but the ladies of the blockbuster comedy have instead made off with a mixed bag of critical reactions.
Though widely regarded as one of the summer’s most anticipated cinematic releases, Ocean’s 8 — a spin-off of producer Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 Ocean’s Eleven remake — hasn’t quite stuck its landing with critics.
The film follows Debbie Ocean (Bullock), the estranged sister of George Clooney’s notorious Danny Ocean, as she attempts to pull off an ambitious jewel theft at the annual Met Gala in New York City alongside an eclectic, all-female band of accomplices (Blanchett, Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway).
In EW’s B review, Leah Greenblatt writes, “Ocean’s 8’s girls-just-wanna-have-grand-larceny conceit is the kind of starry, high-gloss goof the summer movie season was made for, even if it feels lightweight by the already zero-gravity standards of the genre.”
“While great care has been taken in populating the film with infinitely talented performers, there’s been less attention paid to the pros behind the scenes. While Ocean’s Eleven glided through its many sharp set pieces, Ocean’s 8 inelegantly plods,” The Guardian‘s Benjamin Lee adds. “The smoothness of Soderbergh’s concoction, often smug yet mostly rather charming, has been replaced with a bland impersonality, the work of a disinterested hired hand. Snappy, playful camerawork and a deft David Holmes score are sorely missed as Ross fills his film with plainly shot montages of superficial luxury that fail to feel quite as sumptuous as they should.”
Others — like Manhola Dargis of The New York Times — credit the ensemble cast with keeping the picture afloat, though she singles out Hathaway’s work as “comedy gold” thanks to its “fizz” and “delectable timing.”
Justin Chang of The Los Angeles Times similarly lauds Hathaway’s work above her cast mates’, and his review indicates the film is enjoyable summer fare punctuated by brief moments of greatness — something the majority of critics seem to agree on.
“Ocean’s 8 has something to prove, and that determination is both its strength and its limitation. It works hard, stays on point, delivers a few nifty surprises and sometimes rises to a thrilling pitch of excitement — at least, before the story peters out in its belabored third act,” he writes. “What the movie refuses to do is dazzle, or resonate, or overstay its welcome, which is another way of saying it doesn’t really linger. As 8’s go, it could stand to be a little crazier.”
Ocean’s 8 is in theaters this Friday, June 8. Check out more critic reviews below.
Leah Greenblatt (EW)
Too often, though, the script feels like it’s coasting where it should crackle and snap. The energy of Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 Eleven — all that Rat Pack visual jazz and ring-a-ding-ding dialogue — is mostly set aside here for glossy scene-setting and the mechanics of plot. Rare character moments, like Constance patiently explaining Tinder to Amita, feel like a tease for the fuller, sharper story about friendship and female dynamics it could have been. Instead, Ocean’s mostly plays its crooked ladies straight: breezy, felonious, and friction-free
Emily Yoshida (Vulture)
The appeal of the film should just be watching these cool ladies be really competent at screwing over the man, here represented by Anna Wintour and the good people of Société Cartier. But a third-act twist — while delightful in the moment — ends up undercutting even that premise, leaving you wondering if anyone in Debbie’s crew knew what they were doing all along. A flabby final chapter involving James Corden as the detective assigned to the robbery feels like a wild miscalculation — after vastly underusing Rihanna, of all people, you’re going to bring James Corden in to finish the job? And you’re going to give him the one-liners that have been missing from the rest of the film? Who wants to see that? I left Ocean’s 8more convinced than ever that no amount of fierce, fantastic female ensembles can overcome the mediocrity of a dull male director.
Owen Gleiberman (Variety)
Ocean’s 8 is a casually winning heist movie, no more and no less, but like countless films devoted to the exploits of cool male criminals, it lingers most — and not just for 8-year-olds — as a proudly scurrilous gallery of role models.
Benjamin Lee (The Guardian)
The lifeless direction, the unrefined script, the underwhelming cameos, the distinct lack of fizz – there’s a slapdash nature to the assembly of Ocean’s 8 that makes it feel like the result of a rushed, often careless process. It’s made watchable thanks to the cast but star power alone cannot mask creative inadequacy. Stealing a diamond necklace is bad but wasting an opportunity like this is unforgivable.
Manhola Dargis (The New York Times)
Directed by Gary Ross, who machined the script together with Olivia Milch (and the uncredited help of anyone who’s ever written a caper flick), the movie goes down relatively easy despite these nits. At some point between the first and second hours, though, you may find yourself wishing that Mr. Soderbergh — a producer here — had also directed “Ocean’s 8.” Its cast aside, the movie sounds and narratively unwinds like the previous installments, but without the same easy snap or visual allure. As a director, Mr. Soderbergh doesn’t throw the camera around, but one of pleasures of his movies is a commitment to beauty as a cinematic end. Here, the actresses carry that burden.
Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair)
Let me allay some fears right away: Ocean’s 8 is fun. The sequel (of sorts) to Steven Soderbergh’s three Ocean’s films, this time with a mostly female cast of smooth criminals, is a lark and a laugh, an airy caper featuring a bunch of actors you love and a lot of great clothes. Who can argue with that, in June or any other time of year? In that way, Ocean’s 8 is a worthy continuation of a hallowed brand. So, breathe a sigh of relief. There’s no disaster here, no regrettable misfire to be chagrined about. Phew.
Alonso Duralde (The Wrap)
The right people have been hired, and everyone is where they’re supposed to be. That level of planning makes the heist in Ocean’s 8 run fairly smoothly. As for the film itself, similarly curated with care, it gets the job done without ever being one for the record books… Ross — and seriously, they hired a man to direct this? — definitely nails the mechanics of the heist and its aftermath, and he and editor Juliette Welfling (Dheepan) keep it all breezing along, even if Ocean’s 8 never quite delivers the danger or excitement promised by the score from Daniel Pemberton (Molly’s Game). (If you want a heist movie with actual stakes or suspense, skip the Ocean’s series and go dig up Rififi on FilmStruck.)
Kevin Fallon (The Daily Beast)
That the film embraces its femininity while making a loud statement about the ways in which Hollywood dismisses female power is actually transgressive in its own right. By all accounts on the press tour, the actresses involved had a blast with the fashion, which is a boon for Ocean’s 8in a way that so many movies and filmmakers ignore: A good time is contagious! There’s a line midway through the film that might just serve not only as the movie’s thesis, but maybe its broader cultural mission statement—and, let’s face it, this movie’s entire inception, execution, and ultimate critical and audience reaction is inextricable from a political statement it hopes to make. Bullock’s Debbie Ocean is explaining to Blanchett’s Lou why she doesn’t want a man on the team when they attempt their Met Gala heist. “A Him gets noticed, a Her gets ignored,” she says. “For once we want to be ignored.” With that,Ocean’s 8makes the case for why we should all be paying attention—and buying tickets.
Kate Erbland (IndieWire)
Most films that require the assembly of an all-star team tend relish the process, and Ocean’s 8 is no different, as it neatly parcels out introductions to Debbie’s fellow criminals while allowing each actress and character to shine. These are people you want to spend time with, and all the better if that time is spent embarking on a gutsy jewel heist set during one of the world’s premiere fashion events (the costumes, from top to bottom, are divine). The depth and breadth of these characters is one of the film’s greatest assets, from Cate Blanchett as Debbie’s best friend Lou, a booze-shorting badass who appears to take her style cues from early Keith Richards, to Anne Hathaway as the gloriously vapid Daphne, along with star turns from Rihanna as a whipsmart hacker and Awkwafina as a fast-handed grifter. But this volume of bubbly personalities also holds back the film as a whole. We want to spend time with these characters, and when the film switches into heist mode, Ocean’s 8 loses sight of the women who drive it, opting to focus on a heist that’s fun, but not nearly as fun as watching the characters prepare for it. Take us back to the planning stages.
David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
What Soderbergh, who serves here as producer, brought to his Ocean’s films — even the busy, bloated sequels — was a jazzy energy, an effortless light touch that seems beyond the reach of Ross. Ocean’s 8 tries to inject that verve with an eclectic mix of music to supplement Daniel Pemberton’s score, from Charles Aznavour to Amy Winehouse, James Last to The Notorious B.I.G. But it lacks punch, even if the complicated plotting is sound enough, the gadgetry impressive and the visual trappings sleek. You just start to feel starved for a movie with conflict, suspense and a little heart, rather than a repackaged version of a formula already flogged to death.
Justin Chang (The Los Angeles Times)
Ocean’s 8 has something to prove, and that determination is both its strength and its limitation. It works hard, stays on point, delivers a few nifty surprises and sometimes rises to a thrilling pitch of excitement — at least, before the story peters out in its belabored third act. What the movie refuses to do is dazzle, or resonate, or overstay its welcome, which is another way of saying it doesn’t really linger. As 8’s go, it could stand to be a little crazier.