Brandon Robinson commented :
In this soft reboot–outside of a character connection, the idea of a heist/recruitment, and some scenes that they clearly wanted to serve as a mash note to O11–it really did not feel too much like O11. In fact, its plot felt more like Tower Heist with a tone closer to O12 and a deliverance that played out a bit like Logan Lucky. It opens up with a score similar to that of what David Holmes used in the past, but outside of the different score bits this film has an actual soundtrack as well to give it its own style (personally, I would have preferred an “only score” flick).
It’s a very female-driven film. Not just by cast, but also with themes. A lot of this movie involves fashion and high society (as the heist itself takes place at the Met Gala, that’s probably expected), and that lost me a bit. Even the target, although more tangible than that of what O13’s objective was, felt a bit too small-scale. No, they didn’t need to knock over another Vegas casino, but there was something great about that in O11 and O13 that was lost in O12, and it did the same again here. They didn’t spend any time making the city backdrop become a staple or character in this film either. Everything was always shot very close and with a lot of interiors.
As I outright claim in my review title, the weakest aspect of this film was the writing. I just don’t think they were really all that clever, at least in that I had seen it all before. What do all heist films tend to have in common? The suckers around the protagonists eat up everything they are fed. Everything has to work in such a convenient way for it to all be pulled off. In 2018, I’d like to see a heist film that sets up a lot of contingencies when things don’t go right, and this one felt very linear. Also, one thing the previous Ocean’s films did really well was kept the audience in the dark about a lot of what the protags were doing–that they weren’t just tricking innocent bystanders, but they were tricking us along the way as well. I’ll admit they got me once, but on two other occasions it seems like they tried and I just didn’t fall for anything there. The rest of it was all very plainly laid out and we were just going along for watching them attempt to execute it.
These writers also simply didn’t know how connect the (male) audience with its characters the same way as its predecessors. The players served their parts just fine, but only a couple of them had actual personalities. Plus, George Clooney and Brad Pitt developed such a “cool” dialogue with each other all of the time and always knew what the other was thinking. Maybe I’m actually looking for them to be closer to that film more than the writers wanted to, but this felt a little generic as a result. Plus, they upset me with one of their tie-in decisions to the previous trilogy, but I’m sure that was a decision that looms far above their control.
Now, it probably seems like I’m majorly harping on this film, yet really when all was said and done I’d actually say that I enjoyed watching it. It wasn’t a great film by any means, but I certainly did enjoy it. What I think saved it was one Sandra Bullock and one Anne Hathaway, with heavy emphasis on Hathaway. Though let me first say, Sandra played so low-key that I wouldn’t be hard-pressed to claim this might be my favorite performance of hers. It’s not her best performance, but she didn’t feel as much like a “try-hard actor” in this film as she normally does, so it made me like it a lot more. However, the REAL show-stealer in this was Anne Hathaway, and I didn’t even remember she was in this film before she showed up. I LOVED Anne Hathaway in this. I mean she was the really redeeming quality of every scene that she appeared in. If I rewatch the film any time soon (which I likely won’t), it will be for her alone. Her delectable presence got me to go with the idea of the female-ish tone that was being played out. Rihanna got into her character nicely as well. I did not like Cate Blanchett or Helena Bonham Carter, sadly enough. Mindy was kind of “there” as was Sarah Paulson (who they tried to give some character to, but forgot along the way), and I liked Awkwafina but honestly didn’t know who she was before this. Lots of celebrity cameos and a few callbacks to the previous films as well.
Time will tell where this ranks with the other Ocean films, but right now I’d place it at the bottom. At least O12 had an artsy appeal of filming in Amsterdam and it felt like there were a lot of high stakes risks given Isabel, Benedict, and The Nightfox. Sodebergh did enough in that one and the dialogue was witty to still keep it at #3 on the list. Though gents, please feel free to take your significant other though if you’d like; they’ll probably dig the fashionable aspects and you’ll enjoy enough of the caper aspects to leave like I did, saying that you liked it and move on. If there is one other nice takeaway for this film, it’s that everyone looked like they had fun filming it, which is an important staple of the Ocean’s series.
Mediocre commentd :
It’s been said, so I won’t repeat. I was surprised that the best performances were Helena B. Carter and Anne Hathaway. Yes, really, they were the shining stars, partly because the plot allowed them to have more surprising roles and the story gave them more internal/external conflict. Sandra Bullock was the usual (I call her the Keanu Reeves of female Hollywood, no matter what the character is supposed to be feeling, she has one expression, ok, maybe two expressions, and that’s it.) Kate Blanchett didn’t really have any real lines. The one scene where the two should have had an emotionally charged conversation fell flat. The writing was certainly not great, but I must say, the plot kind of sucked in general, so there is so much one can write around that. There was no real thrill, no real conflict. Bullock’s revenge is supposed to carry the emotional weight in the story, but we barely feel it. We’re told it is there, but we really don’t experience how mad she is, how upset she is at having gone to prison for five years. The costumes, the small jabs at the fashion industry, and a fantastic performance by James Corden gets this film a few stars. Corden takes a rather flat character that is kind of sidelined and delivers, as he always does. I heard a few young people in the cinema exclaim that they had “never seen such a smart movie” and that, more than anything in the film, made me laugh! Ah, youth…