Out of Sight Reviews
Jack Foley (George Clooney) is a career bank robber that's done his fair share of jail time. After a recent breakout, he heads for Detroit to pull off his final job by relieving tycoon Richard Ripley (Albert Brooks) of his uncut diamond stash. However, Foley has to contend with other ex-cons with the same idea while evading the law and his infatuation with US Marshall Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez).
Opening with the most remarkably cool and composed bank robbery you're ever likely to see, it's clear from the offset that Soderbergh and Clooney are on very fine form. The mood is also helped by an excellent score by David Holmes that taps into a 70's caper vibe while Soderbergh employs a whole host of stylistic, directorial flourishes; he cleverly plays with the time frame throughout the narrative with complex use of flashbacks and freeze frames and puts a fresh spin on film noir.
Anyone familiar with Leonard's novels will be fully aware of his colourful characters and sharp, snappy dialogue. In bringing them to the screen, Soderbergh assembles a rich gallery of performers; despite Leonard envisioning Jack Nicholson or Sean Connery as Jack Foley when he sold the film rights of his novel, it's a role that fits Clooney like a glove. He brings the requisite charm and charisma and it remains one of his most perfectly suited roles to this day. He's accompanied by a stellar supporting cast too; Jennifer Lopez is not normally someone I'd rate very highly but she delivers some strong work as the doggedly determined Federal Marshall and shares great chemistry with Clooney. Ving Rhames brings his usual reliability as Foley's right hand man, Buddy Bragg while Steve Zahn adds welcome comic relief as stoner, Glenn Michaels. It's the dialogue and interplay between all of these characters that's one of the films major highlights and it provide numerous light, entertaining moments. However, these moments are balanced out with a well judged element of danger. For the most part, the personalities seem flawed and comical but Don Cheadle's chillingly psychotic Snoopy Miller, in particular, is a sobering reminder of what's at stake and what some of these career criminals are capable of.
Despite the story predominantly taking place amongst unsavoury criminals, you could say that this is as much as a romantic drama as it is a crime drama and Soderbergh handles them both (and the comedy elements) with a deftness. The non-linear approach demands a certain concentration as it zips back and forth while teasingly bringing everything together. When you talk about the post-modern cool of 90's crime movies then this is certainly worthy of inclusion.
Crime may be the angle of it's characters but the real crime was this being overlooked upon it's release. It didn't do well at the box-office and many have yet to still uncover this gem.
Having been well versed in the work of Elmore Leonard over the years, I have to say that Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Frank do an exemplary job here. Adaptations of Leonard's work have rarely been better.
Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, this is the story of Jack Foley and Karen Sisco. They have a chance encounter (one of the more unique 'meet cutes' in cinema) that sees them trying to have a romantic relationship with one another. There's a big problem, though, and that is the fact that Jack's a career bank robber who has just broken out of jail, and Karen's a deputy federal marshal who just stumbled right up onto the escape attempt.
The two have an undeniable attraction to one another, and that's a big part of the fun and charm of things, especially since the two are so committed to their polar opposite lifestyles. Even as Karen is hot on Jack's trail as he goes out for more capers, they manage to try to make their conflict work. Leave it to someone like Leonard to come up with a genius premise like this, and people like screenwriter Scott Frank and Soderbergh to craft such a solid adaptation.
The film is a tad more mainstream as far as Soderbergh's work is concerned, but that's not really a bad thing. It doesn't feel like an average mainstream romance/caper comedy, and that's maybe the strongest thing about it. It's got his trademark sense of style and super cool vibe, and the heavily funky soundtrack is quite slick as well.
All of this is highlighted by the performances by an ensemble cast of very well known performers. Jennifer Lopez is surprisingly strong as Karen, and Clooney is in typical top notch form as Jack. These two are really likable, smart, and fun to watch, Their chemistry, and the chemistry with the rest of the cast is remarkable. And speaking of the rest of the cast...Ving Rhames (in some slick spectacles), Don Cheadle (good funny/scary), Albert Brooks, Steve Zahn (very funny, here), Catherine Keener, Luis Guzman, Dennis Farina...and smaller appearances by Michael Keaton, Nancy Allen, Viola Davis, and Samuel L. Jackson.
All in all, the film is very well made, and quite entertaining, but it is admittedly rather overrated. It didn't come off as all that groundbreaking to me, though it may have been so when it came out. I really liked it, but I think in the end it's just shy of the top tier of Soderbergh's work.
Two scenes stood out.
I'll declare one the best accidental death I've seen on screen, while I rack my brain to think of something equally hilarious. White Boy Bob and his stumbling motif had played out twice previously, and I was wondering whether the actor was just clumsy, but to see it worked so well into the script, and have him shoot himself in the head while stumbling over that stair was absurd humour at its best.
The hotel bar and room scenes that were intercut and edited together was done exquisitely. As I mentioned before, sexy, playful, romantic, and that was just the dialogue between them at the bar. I loved that that's what had prominence, with the gradual taking off of clothes spliced amidst it.
Sexy, fun flick is infinitely enjoyable and boasts a very strong cast, where George Clooney, Steve Zahn and, I never thought I'd say this, but Jennifer Lopez too, are the stand-outs.
A career bank robber breaks out of jail and shares a moment of mutual attraction with a US Marshall he has kidnapped.
No one has captured the brilliance of author Elmore Leonard onscreen as Steven Soderbergh did with Out of Sight. Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Frank understand Leonard's dark-comedic tone perfectly and use it to concoct a film that is in turn hilarious, thrilling and romantic--and not at all sappy-romantic, but cool-sexy-hot romantic. The cast is phenomenal. Soderbergh elicits a truly great performance out of Clooney and Jennifer Lopez really never has been better. The supporting cast really shines, with Ving Rhames, Catherine Keener, Don Cheadle, Albert Brooks (who is nearly unrecognisable for most of the film) and Luis Guzman all doing stellar work. Overall, a great comedic action-drama for adults. Tops in this genre. If possible, get it on DVD, where it looks fabulous.