Out of Sight (1998)
Starring: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, Albert Brooks, Steve Zahn, Isaiah WashingtonDirected By: Steven Soderbergh
First off, anyone who hasn't seen this movie because Jennifer Lopez is in it, get over yourselves. Right now. Yes, yes, we all hate J. Lo. We have to. There is no other choice at this point. But this movie was made in the simpler, pre-J. Lo times, when she was just another up and coming starlet, not a marketed brand name.
This is not a J. Lo movie. It is a Steven Soderbergh movie (a pre-Full Frontal Soderbergh movie), an Elmore Leonard movie, a George Clooney movie. It is a slick, character-driven crime caper that is as entertaining as it is intelligent. Actually, to give you an idea of how far Lopez has come (or sank, if you will) read the reviews of this movie from the time it was released, almost all of them call her a talented actress with a bright future.
A big reason for that is the chemistry she and Clooney share in this film. It is a natural chemistry, ignited with the kind of sexual tension that most movies lack, making the otherwise contrived nature of their relationship seem believable. The best part of it is that it is done with very little scenes and work dedicated to it. Both are phenomenal as leads in the film, and it ranks as the best work in either of their careers. The acting in the film is uniformly good, each character is fleshed out and memorable in their own way, from Ving Rhames' sidekick role Buddy Bragg (far better than his Mission: Impossible sidekick roles), Steve Zahn's spacey Glenn Michaels, Kerry Washington's psychopathic Kenneth, Dennis Farina as Lopez's father, Michael Keaton reprising his Jackie Brown character Ray Nicolette, Albert Brooks as a Michael Milken-like Wall Street shyster, and the outstanding Don Cheadle as Maurice "Snoopy" Miller. It's high time that Cheadle gets recognised for making every movie he's in better for his being in it.
Out of Sight is similar to another Soderbergh favourite of mine, Ocean's Eleven in that it oozes with cool, playing off of the natural charm of star George Clooney. However, Out of Sight is more than an exercise in slickness, given a weight that isn't present in Ocean's Eleven, embodied in Jack Foley's (Clooney) fervent desire to avoid going back to the prison life he escapes in the movie's opening act. His solution to this eventuality in the film's final act is quite heartbreaking in its presentation, giving Foley a nobility that has little to do with Clooney's smirking charm.
Plus, the movie is just plain sexy. I really can't imagine anyone watching it and not enjoying it, unless their hatred of Lopez is that blinding. It's easily one of my favourite movies ever, and the best Elmore Leonard adapted movie I've seen (although I can't attest at how good an adaptation it is, as I've never read a Leonard book). This might be sentiment talking, but I'm gonna go ahead and give it a perfect score. I've seen it a hundred times, and it never fails to draw me in.