Out of Sight Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1998

This guy held you hostage and you talk about movies?

"Out of Sight", the latest screen adaptation of an Elmore Leonard book (on the heels of "Get Shorty" and "Jackie Brown"), is a smouldering, sexy, offbeat, and outspoken Seventies-inspired caper movie. This deliciously sly mainstream offering from indie-auteur Steven Soderbergh ("Sex, Lies, and Videotape", "Gray's Anatomy") is a lark from start-to-finish, filled with interesting characters you'll root for, well-conceived comic situations that will elicit a chuckle, and snazzy dialogue that will enthrall.

The story revolves around a pair of star-crossed lovers on opposite sides of the law-- Jack Foley (George Clooney, last seen in "The Peacemaker") and US Marshal Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez of "U-Turn" and "Anaconda"). Jack Foley is a devilishly-handsome bank robber, with a criminal career that has comprised of so many bank jobs that he has lost count. His m.o. is characteristically non-violent-- instead of pointing a gun at the unlucky bank teller he approaches, he prefers to use innuendo and his charismatic charm. However, after being unable to get away from the scene of his latest crime, on the account of his car's flooded engine, he is sent to a Florida jail. Though not long after arriving, he hooks up with some fellow inmates who plan a prison break.

George Clooney is Jack Foley
You think some guy with five million in diamonds stashed away is going to tell some motormouth he just met in jail?
Oh I see... you're cynical.

With the help of his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) and his pal Buddy Bragg (Ving Rhames of "Con Air" and "Rosewood"), the pieces are put in place for the daring escape, with Buddy waiting outside in a parked car. However, on the night of the jailbreak, Karen Sisco happens to be in the prison's parking for other other reasons, and ends up foiling part of the planned escape. During the confusion, Buddy disarms Sisco and throws both her and Foley into the trunk of the US Marshal's car. As Buddy drives them away from the prison, the cop and the criminal in close quarters begin an odd exchange, sharing their sentiments and love of movies. Thus begins the odd courtship/cat-and-mouse game that will have Sisco chasing Foley across the country as the recalcitrant bank robber attempts to do 'one last job'-- stealing a $5 million stash of uncut diamonds.

I didn't ask you for help, so don't expect a tip.
That's okay, I'll just take your car.
Jennifer Lopez is Karen Sisco

In many ways, "Out of Sight" resembles Soderbergh's previous foray into the heist-genre, the under-rated and under-appreciated "The Underneath". Like its predecessor, this film relies on numerous flashbacks to provide backstory for the various characters. However, while this narrative technique adds the necessary depth to the story, it does at times come across as confusing. But regardless of the unconventional structure, the power of this caper pic lies in the sharp characterizations, the judicious casting for these characterizations, the developing romance between Foley and Cisco, and the numerous witty exchanges that pepper the two-hour running time.

You want to sit down and have cocktails with a woman who tried to shoot you?
Ving Rhames with Clooney

Clooney and Lopez are perfectly cast in their opposing roles. Clooney's handsome mug and amiable allure suit the 'bank robber with a heart of gold' trappings of his character, while Lopez is enchanting as the bright and streetwise US Marshal-- her best role since her breakthrough in "Selena". Together, the developing romance between their characters is both believable and immensely appealing. Rhames is cool and confident in his sidekick role, Don Cheadle ("Bulworth") is perfect as a double-crossing con-man, and only Dennis Farina ("Get Shorty" alumus) could play a father who gives her daughter a Sig Sauer for her birthday. Other Elmore Leonard alumni that appear in "Out of Sight", but do not appear in the credits, include Michael Keaton (in a cameo reprising his role in "Jackie Brown"), and Samuel Jackson, who helps bring about a very emotionally satisfying payoff at the film's unconventional ending.

Don Cheadle with Keith Loneker

The atmosphere of "Out of Sight" is rounded out by some stylish cinematography which evokes a feel for Seventies film-making (in particular the use of quick pans and freeze-frames), and is further enhanced with the wise use of period pieces in the soundtrack. This is the film that the passionless "Jackie Brown" should have been-- a well-paced and off-kilter heist movie that hooks you in from the get-go with an engaging emotional core. It would be a crime to miss this one.

Images courtesy of Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.

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