OUT OF SIGHT

PrintE-mail Written by Robert Martin

Notable as the first collaboration between George Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh, (they'd go on to make the Oceans films together, The Good German, plus the hugely underrated remake of Solaris), this steamy, sassy crime caper is almost, unbelievably, 20 years old. So, how has it aged? 

An adaptation of the novel by Elmore Leonard, Out of Sight keeps you guessing as serial bank robber Clooney escapes from prison, inadvertently taking a US Marshall as hostage, played by Jennifer Lopez. Once she's released, she sets about pursuing Clooney and his small gang as they attempt to steal diamonds belonging to a former prison inmate who used to brag about the lucrative stash. But things get complicated when a) a rival gang intends to get their hands on the jewels and b) Lopez gets her hands on Clooney's.

Things come to a head as the heist gets going, leaving us questioning whether the cop wants to get her man for love or for the law...

So, the film isn't only noteworthy as the first Clooney / Soderbergh effort. Following his early career in more arthouse productions, it took a few years for Soderbergh to capitalise on the success of his debut, Sex Lies and Videotape, and it wasn't until Out of Sight that he really found his feet in creating intelligent, stylish yet mainstream cinema. It's a world away from the style of his previous work, and heralds the arrival of someone who would go on to make some pretty cool films, ranging from the super slickness of Ocean's 11 to the intense and Oscar-winning Traffic.

The film also marks the emergence of Clooney as a major film star, finally throwing off the shackles of the small screen and giving a bona fide movie star performance. He oozes confidence and sex appeal, and is matched perfectly by Jennifer Lopez in what is still her best screen roll. She's hotter than a baking potato on Bonfire Night and their scenes together sparkle with wit and sexuality. The heat between the pair is extra spicy, given that you're never sure of her motives. It's a tantalizing relationship and both stars play it perfectly.

Amongst the supporting cast, Albert Brooks is a treat as usual, as are Steve Zahn, Ving Rhames and Don Cheadle, and there's a fantastic turn by Michael Keaton playing the same character he played in Tarantino's glorious Jackie Brown.

In the end, despite the clever, witty script, the easy-cool style of Soderbergh, the spot-on score and the sumptuous photography, Out of Sight lives or dies on the chemistry between the two mains, upon which most of the tension hangs. Without that indefinable frisson, this could have ended up being simply a very good thriller. Fear not, though, Clooney and Lopez not only have chemistry, they add a whole new row to the periodic table, raising the temperature but also the movie to something beyond your standard criminal romance.

OUT OF SIGHT (1998) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: STEVEN SODERBERGH / SCREENPLAY: SCOTT FRANK / STARRING: GEORGE CLOONEY, JENNIFER LOPEZ, VING RHAMES, DON CHEADLE, ALBERT BROOKS / RELEASE DATE: 28TH MARCH


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