Out of Sight
scored critical raves, but its title sums up the theatrical fate of Steven Soderbergh's coolly comic crime caper and misfit romance based on Elmore Leonard's novel
. But this is the sort of buried treasure home video was created to rescue.
George Clooney comes into his own as a leading man in the role of inveterate bank robber Jack Foley. Incarcerated, he uses another inmate's prison break as a cover for his own escape. Waiting for him, according to plan, is his partner, Buddy (Ving Rhames). Also waiting for him, not according to plan, is federal agent Karen Sisco (the ravishing Jennifer Lopez). She finds herself disarmed in more ways than one when she is deposited in the getaway car's trunk with Jack. But that doesn't stop her from joining the task force created to capture him, while he plans "one last heist."
Out of Sight is a rich, entertaining film, stylish without being showy, faithful to the integrity of Leonard's potent dialogue and quirky characters, and seamlessly acted by a dream ensemble. Standouts include Albert Brooks as convicted insider trader Richard Ripley, who while in prison brags to the wrong people that he has $5 million in uncut diamonds hidden in his house; Don Cheadle as Maurice (don't call him "Snoopy") Miller, with whom Jack warily teams up to steal said diamonds; Dennis Farina as Karen's protective father (his idea of a birthday gift is a Sig-Hauer .38); and, in unbilled cameos, Michael Keaton, reprising his Jackie Brown role as FBI agent Ray Nicolet, and Samuel L. Jackson.
If you liked Get Shorty and Jackie Brown, you'll find this, well, Out of Sight. --Donald Liebenson
Out of Sight was one of the best movies of 1998, but ironically this superior crime comedy was a box-office disappointment. Fortunately the movie can enjoy a long life on home video, where it can be savored by anyone who missed its original release. Making his best film since 1989's sex, lies, and videotape, director Steven Soderbergh pays tribute to the signature wit and intricacy of Elmore Leonard's novel, brilliantly adapted by Scott Frank, the gifted screenwriter who previously adapted Leonard's Get Shorty. The movie's a prime showcase for the talent and chemistry of George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, respectively playing a career bank robber who's escaped from jail and the federal agent who falls for his charms while tracking him down. Soderbergh directs with confident visual flair, shifting time- lines (Ã la Pulp Fiction) to weave together subplots and maintain vivid focus on Leonard's splendid characters and smooth-as-silk dialogue. While the sexy repartÃ©e between Clooney and Lopez recalls the vintage interplay of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Ving Rhames and Steve Zahn add ample comic relief as Clooney's accomplices. Dennis Farina is memorable as Lopez's father, and Albert Brooks is almost unrecognizable as a Wall Street crook whose mansion--and a cache of uncut diamonds--provides the setting for the film's climactic caper. As orchestrated by Soderbergh, the film offers a feast of plot twists and surprises, but it never loses track of its delightful characters and the clever wit that brings them so vividly to life. --Jeff Shannon