Love can spring up in the most unlikely circumstances, like the story the protagonists experience in this beautiful 1998 Steven Soderbergh movie, Out of Sight.
Indeed, the plot chronicles the strange relationship between handsome gentleman thief Jack Foley and the beautiful and gritty U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco, who meet for the first time just as the man breaks out of Glades Prison.
Foley is an intelligent, thoughtful man who can always count on the help of his faithful partner Buddy Bragg; however, his thief career seems to be repeatedly struck by bad luck.
So he decides to aim for the big score and rob the mansion of Richard Ripley, a wealthy businessman whom he helped after his previous arrest while serving time in Lompoc.
Once out, Ripley shows no gratitude to Foley, even if he repeatedly protects him from the thefts and assaults of the violent Snoopy, another convict with his eye on the treasure he hides in his house.
Foolishly, the man told them that he had kept a large quantity of precious diamonds in his house, so all these criminals converge on Detroit to rob Ripley’s luxurious mansion.
Unfortunately for them all, Karen Sisco also smelled the trail and realized something big was going on, beginning to hunt them relentlessly.
Meanwhile, the beautiful sheriff does not deny her attraction to Foley, who reciprocates her advances, and they experience a brief and intense romance together.
However, the job sets them against each other, so while these gangs plan the robbery, the sheriff must decide what to do if and when she succeeds in arresting the unlucky Foley.
An appealing authorial blockbuster
Out of Sight is a movie that perfectly sums up what I love about 90s cinema, arriving almost to the last moment shortly before the new millennium began in 1998.
Steven Soderbergh builds a flawless small police-cop ecosystem without sacrificing his usual cinematic style of great elegance in staging and cinematography, which has become a signature for this director.
Credibility and realism perfectly match the characters’ cool and detached attitude, excitingly blending crime, romance, comedy, and even passing in the environs of noir action.
Despite the narrative going back and forth between flashback and present, the excellent editing by Anne V. Coates effectively alternates the many character subplots from Scott Frank‘s screenplay, which adapts Elmore Leonard‘s terrific original novel to cinematic timing.
Two of the biggest sexy icons of those times, for the delight of men’s and women’s eyes, forever crystallized in the film Olympus in a romantic thief hunt with a powerful sexual charge in their every encounter, their every look, as well as their every word and silence.
Soderbergh leads us on a stroll through a slice of America no longer believing in the American dream, as usual, ranging across different color palettes according to the city we are in, a photographic concept he will further bring to the top straddling the US and Mexico with the magnificent Traffic.
If Ocean’s Eleven was just some fun between friends/actors, Out of Sight represents the best compromise between a serious and mature story and the typical entertainment of big American blockbusters.
Good and bad guys from 90s
Shifting to talk about the cast, we must begin with the two magnetic and irresistible leads.
George Clooney is a handsome thief of great charisma, though his character is far from perfect or infallible of cunning.
Just as he ends up arrested again at the beginning, Jack Foley often acts emotionally, foolishly, and recklessly.
Indeed, he is a gentle criminal, or at least not sadistic and violent like other characters, although right from the start, he seems to lack that passion he only finds in meeting the gorgeous U.S. Marshal woman.
On the other hand, Jennifer Lopez is at the peak of her young beauty and sensuality, just as in the later The Cell of 2000; in this case, playing a tough, hard-boiled cop making no concessions to anyone.
However, she also changes with this encounter, realizing that, after all, cops and criminals are often not so different, and it’s just a matter of luck and fate whether a person becomes one or the other.
Obviously, the relationship between Karen and Jack is the real driving force of the story, yet the other actors are not here to be just sidekicks, beginning with the excellent Don Cheadle, whom we see in a character as likable and endearing as he is violent and openly evil.
An exceptional villain that many have underestimated since, reading online reviews, I never see anyone mention him, but I want to applaud because, like the best stories, it takes someone ruthless to enhance the courage and goodness of the protagonists.
Equally important is Ving Rhames, who many have reduced to simply being George Clooney’s black buddy, whereas he is a character almost acting as his conscience in some ways, trying unsuccessfully to dissuade him from crime and impossible romance with a cop.