Monday 13 June 2011

Movie Review: Out Of Sight (1998)

A heist movie featuring a romance across criminal lines between a bank robber and U.S. Marshal, Out Of Sight tries to be slick but succeeds only in being mostly wet. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, the action never leaves the realm of the contrived and hydroplanes on accumulations of the absurd.

Serial bank robber Jack Foley (George Clooney) has committed more hold-ups than anyone can remember.  He is non-violent and has never used a gun, and has spent a lot of time in prisons and as much time plotting to escape. With the help of frequent accomplice Buddy (Ving Rhames), Jack busts out of jail, and in the process takes Marshal Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) hostage. A spark immediately ignites between the two, but they part ways as Jack and Buddy hook up with another accomplice, the slow-witted Glenn (Steve Zahn). As Jack and his gang make their way to Detroit where they plan to hold-up the diamond-rich mansion of Ripley (Albert Brooks), Sisco is part of a group of federal agents on their tail, and hardened criminal Maurice Miller (Don Cheadle) leads a rival mob intent on getting to Ripley's mansion first.

Out Of Sight is a film attempting to be cool and real, but not many of the central actions or character behaviours ring true. Foley's unlikely escape from prison; Sisco abandoning all logic to immediately fall for a con man who has abducted her; the police showing up en masse to arrest Foley and Buddy at their hideout hotel, but failing to secure the parkade; and the prolonged climactic robbery sequence, in which the real bad guys (Miller and crew) fall into that typical Hollywood trap, where vicious and calculating criminals become bumbling and incompetent just when it matters most, to the benefit of the attractive stars.

Director Steven Soderbergh attempts to cover up the gaping script holes by unnecessarily forcing the action to jump around the hurdle of convoluted flashbacks, which add little style but plenty of confusion. Other stunts include tiny roles for Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, and Nancy Allen, none of whom are on-screen long enough to meaningfully contribute.

Without a firm grip on any sort of reality, Out Of Sight is left with the chemistry of its two stars as it's only watchable element. Clooney and Lopez do not disappoint, but neither can they save the movie. Clooney, still a couple of years removed from movie superstardom, provides further proof that he is heading in that direction with a world-weary performance that oozes class, while Lopez overcomes her character's lack of common sense and delivers what may be her most engaging screen performance, particularly in the scenes opposite Clooney.

Despite the available star charisma, Out Of Sight is out of ideas and quickly out of mind.

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