Out of Sight (1998) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Out of Sight exists in the post Pulp Fiction cinematic wake, that saw many attempt to ape the Tarantino style with little success. After the split narrative structure and off-beat loquacious characters from that earlier film, nearly every crime/drama that followed was suited with similar features. Virtually none of these impostors were able to recreate the sense of discovery that was so vital to the success of Pulp Fiction. So leave it up to director Steven Soderbergh to adapt an Elmore Leonard book (Similar to Tarantino adapting Leonard’s Rum Punch for Jackie Brown) and produce a film that employes vintage Tarnatino-ism to almost near perfection.

Jack Foley is an escaped convict with the hots for an attractive Federal Marshall named Karen Sisco. They meet when she happens to be dropping a prisoner off at the same prison Foley has just escaped from. Taking her hostage, while using her vehicle as an escape car, Foley is locked in the trunk with the officer while his cohort drives to freedom. The pair eventually free the woman but not after a strange encounter that leaves both Foley and Sisco wanting to know more about the other. Meanwhile Foley meets up with some fellow ex-cons who are plotting a home invasion robbery in the suburbs of Detroit. Mixed in with the crime element is an unusual romance between Foley and Sisco, both attempting to be free in the moment to feel emotions, but rational enough to know the limited outcomes of their arrangement. As played by Clooney and Lopez, in glamorous star making turns each, the couple have a burning attraction for one another but also a sadness in that their stations in life will never permit the two characters a happy ending.

This is a movie about style and function over substance and explanation, the characters seem to exist in a dream-like world one moment and a starkly violent one the next. Soderbergh brings a visual quality to the film that grounds it the great tradition of expressionistic noir works and touches of the French new wave. Credit to Soderbergh for turning, what on paper is a pedestrian crime story, into a movie with an aura of mystery and inevitability.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames

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