Reboots, remakes, and revivals are undergoing an interesting metamorphosis in this current era of filmmaking. In light of long-standing push for equality for female performers and filmmakers in the industry, a trend has developed where “gender-swapping” the leads have become a fairly common casting tool to change things up a bit. The results have been a pretty mixed bag depending on your perspective, from the ill-received “Ghostbusters” from 2016 as well as this year’s “Overboard” as well as the upcoming films “The Hustle” (based on “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”) and next year’s “What Men Want”, this attempts to not just give these stories a fresh face but a fresh perspective as well. The latest addition to the Ocean’s franchise with “Ocean’s 8” features a line-up that’s a veritable who’s who of girl power, but how does it stack up?
Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is fresh out of prison and on her way to planning a heist to rival anything her estranged brother Danny ever cooked up. Having five years to plan the ultimate con at the annual Met Gala, she assembles her crew including her partner Lou (Cate Blanchett), jeweler Akita (Mindy Kaling), old partner-in-crime Tammy (Sarah Paulson), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), and washed up fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter). After marking their target in celebrity and socialite Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), the plan is set into motion for what could possibly be the biggest heist of the century.
This film served as a veritable showcase of talent featuring an incredibly talented and diverse cast that really seemed to have really great chemistry. That being said, why is this such a “meh” film? It seems to try and coast by strictly on the strengths of brand recognition alone by a lack a strong or witting script to give these ladies something really juicy to work with. It ends up coming off as a deliberately convoluted paint-by-the-numbers heist film without offering anything new or refreshing. With so many moving pieces in place, there was plenty of opportunity to make some wonderful music here, but writer/director Gary Ross seemingly ran out of ideas or energy and just mailed it in. Maybe with such a remarkable collection of ladies, they should have gone with a female director that has a better understanding of what it takes to make the most of what they had to work with here. It simply doesn’t coalesce, but I’d like to see these ladies get another shot at this with a follow up, but maybe with a more in-tune writer/director team to really make things shine.