Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Out of Sight (1998)

Our Netflix film tonight was OUT OF SIGHT, an interesting look at the attraction between a genial bank robber (George Clooney) and a gutsy, self-possessed federal marshal (Jennifer Lopez).

I'd heard good things about the film and found it quite enjoyable, if improbable. Clooney plays a smooth operator who is a variation on his later Danny Ocean character, and the appealing Lopez shows she could have had a much more interesting career than she has developed if she had made better choices after this film.

There are two good supporting performances, by Dennis Farina as Lopez's father and Ving Rhames as Clooney's sidekick with a conscience. Michael Keaton hits the mark in a one-scene cameo as Lopez's dense, married FBI flame.

The film has a unique story and interesting "nonlinear" editing -- in that regard it reminded me of Clooney's 2007 film MICHAEL CLAYTON. The movie also has an attractive visual style, whether it's the hotel hideout in Florida, Farina's waterfront home, the brake lights illuminating the inside of a trunk, or snow falling outside a Detroit cocktail lounge.

My main criticism of this R-rated film is the language and violence. The violence was actually fairly muted, compared to what it could have been, but there were a couple unnecessary screen shots and I would have preferred if the film had maintained a more lighthearted OCEAN'S-style tone throughout.

OUT OF SIGHT was directed by Steven Soderbergh, who also directed Clooney's three OCEAN's capers.

The supporting cast includes Don Cheadle (also of OCEAN's) as a menacing thug, Albert Brooks as a wealthy ex-con, Catherine Keener as Clooney's ex, and Isaiah Washington (GREY'S ANATOMY) as another crook. Steve Zahn is amusing as a very dense ex-con who knows both Clooney and Lopez. Look for Samuel L. Jackson in a cameo role.

The movie runs 123 minutes. It could have used tighter editing towards the end, when Don Cheadle's character was allowed to dominate and the pace grew sluggish, but it maintains viewer interest throughout.

Parental advisory: This film is rated R for language, violence, and one love scene. I actually don't think there was much more to it than some PG-13 films I've seen, but it's not for the younger set.

OUT OF SIGHT is available on DVD. It also had a VHS release.


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