Anyone who has seen Steven Soderbergh‘s (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Ocean’s 11) brilliant Out of Sight knows that there is a lot more going on with the plot of this film than that simple, one sentence synopsis. You have a bank robbery, a prison break, a diamond heist, and a romantic element all rolled into one film. In the hands of another director, this film could have been a disaster. Instead, what we have is a brilliant, funny, smart film that defies easy categorization. While I am not one of the people who automatically loves everything Soderbergh does, I can wholeheartedly say that I love this movie.
After breaking out of prison and unexpectedly running into a Federal Marshal, Jack and his friend Buddy (Ving Rhames) take the Marshal hostage. Jack and Karen share the trunk as Buddy drives the getaway car. Once they meet up with Glenn (Steve Zahn), Glenn helps Karen escape . Jack and Buddy work their way north to Detroit to rip off Ripley (Albert Brooks), who had foolishly bragged in prison that he had millions of dollars of diamonds at his home. Meanwhile, Snoopy Miller (Don Cheadle), who was in prison with Jack and Buddy, decides to rip off Ripley with his own crew. All the while, Karen is tracking Jack. But is she tracking him to arrest him or because she is infatuated with him?
Based on the novel of the same name, Out of Sight, written by Elmore Leonard, the film occurs in the present and 2 years previous, when Jack and Buddy were in prison with Snoopy Miller, Glenn, and Ripley. That is where they learn of Ripley’s diamond stash as he brags about it to keep from being abused in the joint.
Funny, witty, clever, and all around entertaining, I think that Out of Sight is my favorite Soderbergh film, my second favorite George Clooney film (From Dusk til Dawn is still my fave), the best film Jennifer Lopez as been associated with and Don Cheadle’s redeeming film prior to Iron Man 2. Add to that cast the funny Steve Zahn, Ving Rhames, Luis Guzman, Nancy Allen, Albert Brooks, Dennis Farina, Catherine Keener, and in uncredited roles Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson, and you have a film that is simply stuffed with great actors.
While the film is essentially a heist picture, you owe it to yourself to see what one is like when done right. There is so much going on, but it all revolves around the central heist concept.
The characters in the film are all well fleshed out, even though the main roles belong to Clooney and Lopez. Everyone gets their time to shine, and they are all colorful characters. None of them are stereotypical in their performances and all do things you wouldn’t expect of movie characters but would out of real people.
This was also George Clooney’s first star making turn (following his breakout performance in From Dusk til Dawn). He had his charisma turned up full throttle here, and despite his good looks, he comes across as an everyman. Jennifer Lopez also gives a star making turn in her portrayal of Karen Sisco.
If you have never heard of this film, or have never seen it, I would highly recommend checking it out. It has one of the funniest scenes in cinema history (silly, silly, clumsy White Boy Bob), and is a very well done heist film. From Clooney’s and Lopez’s breakout performances to a stellar cast, this film has it all. In my opinion, it is Soderbergh’s best film and it is entertaining no matter how may times you watch it. The dialogue is great, the story is great, and the comedy works to keep the film from becoming to serious. Highly recommended.
**** out of ****