Out of Sight

Poster
1998
Steven Soderbergh

9/10 (Cheadle, fore-shadowing)

Before he shot to fame with “Erin Brokovich,” “Traffic,” and “Ocean’s 11,” Soderbergh actually made his best film to date: “Out of Sight.” Just look at the poster, isn’t it unbelievably cool? Guess what folks? THE ENTIRE MOVIE IS THAT COOL!

Soderbergh is the perfect director for an Elmore Leonard novel (yes, even better than Tarantino with “Jackie Brown”), and here he tells the story of bankrobber Jack Foley who has his eyes on a heist. Meanwhile, he is pursuing a strange courtship with U.S. Marshall Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez, before she decided to become lame), who he fell in love with after kidnapping her during a prison break and spending several hours in a trunk together. She is hunting him but has to decide if it’s to bust him or screw him. Unlikely? Yes, but it’s Elmore Leonard, so you just go with it.

What makes the movie so great? Apart from the funky, innovative visuals, using flashbacks, jumpcuts, fade-outs and freeze-frames, you have an unbeatable score (from David Holmes, who Soderbergh was so blown away by here that he kept him on for the “Ocean” films as well), unforgettable characters, and great acting. Clooney hasn’t been better, this was the (only) high point of Lopez’s film career, Steve Zahn is hilarious, Ving Rhames is badass with a twist, and Albert Brooks, Catherine Keener, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman round it out, with cameos by Michael Keaton and Dennis Farina.

The movie, told with many extended flashbacks and involving different prisons and releases, is somewhat difficult to follow, but it doesn’t matter all that much. The important thing is that it’s so fun and has so many memorable moments that you will only with difficulty find a better way to spend two hours. I only have two minor complaints. First, Cheadle has some good moments but is very inconsistent in his role as a sinister gangbanger. His ghetto accent is spotty at best, and he’s just not convincing as a thug. Second, there’s some lame foreshadowing at the end involving White Boy Bob. It would have been better to just leave it out and let the shock roll on its own.

Minor quibbles! Besides that, the film is perfect! Quite nearly 10-worthy! See this movie! You will not regret it! On the contrary, you will thank me with your firstborn child!

30 March 2010

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