Out Of Sight

Director: Steven Soderbergh.
Screenplay: Scott Frank.
Starring: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Albert Brooks, Catherine Keener, Isaiah Washington, Luis Guzman, Dennis Farina, Viola Davis, Nancy Allen, Paul Calderon, Keith Loneker, Mike Malone, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson.

“If I see Glenn wearing his sunglasses I’m gonna step on ’em. I might not even take ’em off first”

The late Elmore Leonard had been writing crime and western novels as far back as the 1950’s and has had numerous adaptations of his work: Paul Newman in Hombre, Clint Eastwood in Joe Kidd and Charles Bronson in Mr. Majestyk are just some of the more familiar ones. However, around the mid 90’s there was somewhat of a reinvestment in his work. After the release of Quentin Tarantino’s hugely influential Pulp Fiction in 1994, crime became cool again and Elmore Leonard became the go-to guy for the material. John Travolta would follow-up Pulp with Barry Sonnenfeld’s humorous adaptation of Leonard’s Get Shorty and Tarantino himself adapted Rum Punch into Jackie Brown. There were other TV Movies like Gold Coast and Pronto, Paul Schrader’s misjudged Touch and the short lived TV series Maximum Bob. Steven Soderbergh then rounded them off with this stylish film that, arguably, handed George Clooney the first role that suited him as a fully fledged leading man.  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 David Holmes’ excellent score that evokes 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 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 gossiping stoner, Glenn Michaels. It’s the dialogue and interplay between all of these characters that’s one of the films major highlights and it provides 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 still yet to 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. Alongside Get Shorty and Jackie Brown this completes a quality (90’s) trilogy of the masterful Leonard’s work.Mark Walker

Trivia: Michael Keaton reprises his role as “Ray Nicolette” in a small cameo. He originally played him in Jackie Brown while Dennis Farina appeared in Get Shorty. 


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32 Responses to “Out Of Sight”

  1. Love this film! One of the best translations of Elmore Leonard’s work to film, ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review Mark. I’ve never really been into Soderbergh’s work, but I do really like Out of Sight. It’s also the only time I have ever tolerated Jennifer Lopez in anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers, man! Soderbergh can certainly be hit and miss. I’ve enjoyed a number of his films but I’d say Out of Sight is one of his best. Absolutely agreed on Lopez too. I normally can’t stand her but she’s very effective in this.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this film too. Greatly unappreciated. One of those film that slipped through the cracks. I thought it was the best big screen adaptation of Elmore’s work.

    Best, if not only thing, Lopez has ever done. Great casting… Cheadle, Zahn, Brooks, Rhames, Farina, Guzman and Clooney at his most charming self.

    A highlight for me was the music by DJ David Holmes and The Isley Brothers. “Rip Rip” was funky as hell and the rest just had a cool vibe. Listening to it now.

    Here’s some trivia for you Mark. Danny DeVito produced Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, Be Cool and the short lived TV series Karen Sisco. Fan of the genre much? Interestingly enough he also produced Gen X faves Reality Bites, Garden State, Feeling Minnesota (Keanu Reeves) and inexplicably the sci-fi Gattica.

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    • It’s a great flick, man. I was tempted to give it a slightly higher mark but the one thing that hindered it was occasional lapses in pacing. It’s still a superb film, though, and just slightly behind Jackie Brown in my eyes. Jackie Brown just seems to get better with every viewing.
      With you on Lopez as well. She hasn’t done much that’s I could say stands out but she’s perfect in this and Holmes’ music really hits the spot.
      I knew about DeVito’s involvement with a lot Leonard’s film and, of course, Pulp Fiction but I wasn’t aware of the Gen X ones apart from Reality Bites. They’re all good films, man. Gattaca and Garden State were great and even though Feeling Minnesota didn’t do much for people, I actually liked that as well. It’s a quirky little film.
      Cheers Dave!

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  4. Soderbergh has repeatedly managed to channel Clooney’s smoothness into a force for good! I did like this, particularly as the leads have really excellent chemistry, but also (as you mentioned) for the supporting characters. Cheadle is pretty believable, but it’s the slightly comic turns I like best (Keaton, Farina, Luis Guzman, Zahn, and so on). Great soundtrack by David Holmes too.

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    • The supporting cast were s blast, man! Loved them all but Cheadle and Zahn really stood out and Guzman is always a reliable addition to any cast.

      It’s definitely a highlight of Clooney and Soderbergh’s collaborations but my favourite just might be Solaris. I haven’t seen the original and might think differently when I do but I loved Soderbergh’s version and thought Clooney was tremendous.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never seen either Solaris, I really ought to watch them both at some point. I gather the Tarkovsky version is quite different (or the Soderbergh version different, I should say). Foley is a more interesting character than Danny Ocean, but there are a few similarities. Thought Lopez was good in this too, considering her reputation! I wish she’d made a few more like this.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I must get onto Tarkovsky too but when I do there’s a chance I may not like Soderbergh’s as much (going by some opinions). As it stands now, though, I’m a huge fan of that flick. Wasn’t keen on Ocean’s 11 or its sequels. I found them pretty empty to be honest.

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      • The sequels were terrible, but I enjoyed the original myself. I couldn’t really disagree with ’empty’ though! All style, little in the way of substance.

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  5. Count me amongst those who have never heard of this film before, but thanks to your excellent review of it I will be finding it somewhere sometime soon. I really love that cast, and it’s great to hear Jennifer Lopez brings strong work. She’s pretty talented in all actuality, her choice of movies just sucks though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You haven’t heard of it all? It’s well worth a look, Tom. This is part of a great trilogy alongside Get Shorty and Jackie Brown. Brilliant film and the one that convinced many that Clooney really did have the goods after a few duds beforehand.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes indeed, very strong review Marcus. Clooney looks like a spring chicken here doesn’t he? I’m no fan of J-Lo, but I’ve got to give her dues for her turn in this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice review, Clooney and Lopez just sizzle so much in this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Another one here who had never heard of this film. I like early Clooney stuff, especially From Dawn Till Dusk or whatever that one was called. He was great in that. I’ll have to put this on The List. Nice write-up mate

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […] Great blogger and man of taste Mark reviews the sizzling Out Of Sight. […]

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  10. This was my travel book when I backpacked through Europe. The movie was already out by then and when I got back I rented it almost right away. The movie works really well, doesn’t it? I agree it’s a shame it was overlooked on its release. It deserved better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice book to travel with, Sean. I’m a huge Elmore Leonard fan and I’ve lost count of the amount novels I’ve read of his. This was definitely one of the best adaptations of his work. Shame that it wasn’t recognised the way it should’ve been. Great film.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez and so good together. Some of the sexiest scenes in all of modern film.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I watched this and reviewed it recently. Still so fresh and entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

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