Country: United States
Director: Steven Soderbergh
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
By all rights, Out Of Sight should be trash cinema. After all, the source material is an Elmore Leonard novel. In Elmore Leonard books, there is no attempt to weight the events with great sociological or thematic significance. The plot is driven by character and isn’t really thought out ahead of time. The characters tell Leonard what will happen next. Elmore Leonard novels and the movies that are made from them are meant to be light, disposable entertainments.
The problem is that director Steven Soderbergh tries to be too clever and sabotages his own movie. Arty touches like freeze frame, which he employs dozens of times in the flick, scream “THIS IS A MOVIE!!!!” when all you really want is to enjoy the action as it unfolds. The needlessly convoluted non-sequential structure works against the narrative satisfactions of the picture, all so Soderbergh can prove to us how clever he is. Give me a break.
He also employs devices like blue filters and wonky editing to further distance us from the action, giving Out Of Sight a cold feeling at times, which is completely counterproductive. Out Of Sight should be warm, like Get Shorty, or if Soderbergh can’t manage that, at least naturalistic.
Fortunately, even stupid director tricks can’t completely ruin the movie.
Karen Sisco (J. Lo) and Jack Foley (George Clooney) meet cute after a prison escape. She’s FBI and he’s a bank robber. Supposedly, romantic sparks fly. It’s a good thing J. Lo and George Clooney are two of the most attractive people on earth, or we’d never buy it.
For the rest of the picture, Jack pursues a heist that will allow him to retire from the criminal life while Karen does her best to catch him, in order to keep him out of harms way.
Elmore Leonard novels are all about character, so it’s a good thing that Out Of Sight has such an incredible cast. Dennis Farina plays Karen’s dad, himself a cop. Oddly, he is only bemused at Karen’s romantic proclivity for convicted felons, but has complete contempt for Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton), a not-too-bright ATF cop who’s romantically interested in Karen. (By the way, Keaton plays the exact same character in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.) Don Cheadle is comically menacing as Maurice Miller, a hood who muscles in on Jack’s score. Steve Zahn, Isaiah Washington, Catherine Keener, Ving Rhames, and Nancy Allen add a ton of flavor. Albert Brooks almost walks away with the picture with his hilarious but completely naturalistic turn as a crooked investment banker.
Suffice it to say that Leonard’s plot, the charismatic performances of George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, and the richness of the character acting, overcome director Steven Soderbergh’s artistic pretensions enough that Out Of Sight ends up being reasonably entertaining.
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