Out of Sight (1998)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Scott Frank, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
Starring George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Steve Zahn, Don Cheadle

My Advice: Don't Miss It.

Hollywood is not completely braindead.  Exhibit G is this fine gem which seems to recall the idea that a great director, smart script and good cast put together on the same screen can hardly ever go wrong. 

Jack Foley (Clooney) has robbed banks.  A lot of banks.  In fact, he's got the record in the U.S., we find out.  He screwed up his last one, though, and is stewing in prison.  He gets out with the help of his partner Buddy (Rhames) only to run smack into a U.S. marshall, Karen (Lopez), who he has to take hostage to get away.  He dumps her and himself into the trunk (wouldn't you?) and they're home free.  Karen gets away but has something to prove to her compatriots at work, who think she's good for getting them coffee.  She decides to hunt down Foley, although neither he nor she know exactly what either will do when they see each other again.

Clooney delivers Foley with the ease of a man who knows exactly what he's doing.  Whether or not that's actually the case is anyone's guess, but the appearance is there.  He plays the role perfectly.  Lopez has never been better, her character is just that good as well, but no one else around her seems to know it, save for Foley and her dad (Dennis Farina).  The attraction the two share is handled extremely well, never written to take the easy way out as most films might have done.  Rhames is again a badass, but this time he's a badass with a conscience, who's always calling his sister and confessing to things so she can pray for him.  It's hilarious.  Cheadle is excellent, like always, this time playing a gang leader, doing the gang leader thing complete with a do-rag and he's just a tad on the vicious side. 

From the moment I saw Clooney come out at the beginning and throw down his tie in a freeze frame, I knew this was going to be an interesting and amusing film.  However, thanks to Soderbergh's handling of timelines, the cast's portrayals and a very smart screenplay, it is one of the first films to build successfully upon Pulp Fiction's legacy.

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