johnlink ranks OUT OF SIGHT (1998)

Way back in late 2008, I was doing a podcast with my wife, my brother, and our great friend. It was called the Iocaine Project (lofty little PRINCESS BRIDE reference), and we had a ton of fun. The podcast had a website, and I decided to write a couple of movie articles for it. The first was OUT OF SIGHT, and the second was GROSSE POINTE BLANK. Both were long time favorite movies of mine, and writing about them re-sparked an interest in considering movies in a more complete way. Off of these two articles, I decided to start writing a blog on January 1st, 2009. I’ve written about every single movie I have watched since. So, in a very direct way, I owe the origin of this blog to this great crime caper film.


I watched OUT OF SIGHT (1998) on 11.19.15. It was probably my seventh or eight viewing of the film, and my first since December 2008.

Jack Foley (George Clooney) is a career bank robber who manages to ride the coattails of a prison break to bust himself out. His partner Buddy (Ving Rhames) is waiting for him as he emerges from the dirt, but unfortunately so is Marshall Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez). She ends up with them for a short time as Jack gets out of the immediate area, but the relationship they forge in the trunk of a car lasts with both of them.

Foley has a job already set up in Detroit which involves the robbing of a former Wall Street prison inmate, Ripley (Albert Brooks). It also involves a bunch of other people Foley had met in prison, including the annoying Glenn (Steve Zahn) and the tough villain, Snoopy (Don Cheadle). This is based off of an Elmore Leonard novel, so all of these characters are well formed and interesting. But the movie centers around a future robbery while diverting itself with the Foley/Sisco romance.


The characters here lived feel larger than life, and there are a couple of reasons for that. Sisco got her own TV show for a couple of years on ABC. Her boyfriend at the start of the movie is Ray Nicollete (Michael Keaton) reprising his role from JACKIE BROWN. More importantly, the actors cast in this are perfect for their roles. George Clooney was born to deliver Leonard’s dialogue. Jennifer Lopez gives – far and away – her best performance as an actress in this film. Rhames is an effective sidekick. Zahn plays the petty thief in over is head to perfection. Cheadle gets to play the scene-chewing villain who manages to be dangerous deposit being constantly undercut. There are a couple of patriarchal types with Albert Brooks in the weasel role and Dennis Farina in the all-knowing daddy-cop role. The casting in this movie is perfect. Even the small parts end up in the capable hands of Academy Award nominees Catherine Keener and Samuel L. Jackson or future Oscar winner Viola Davis. These performances, on a whole, really elevate this film to another level.

The script is smart, funny, and smooth. We get a timeline which follows a non-linear path. We start in the present but jump into the past regularly. In one of the film’s best scenes, Foley and Sisco meet at a hotel bar and their dialogue is intercut with the room in which their night will end up. There is no need to stand on ceremony, the audience and the characters know where this will end up, so why not show us as they speak.

This is a really funny movie, and everyone gets in on it. The banter between Foley and Sisco is key, but Zahn’s simpleton is important as well. A scene between Farina and Keaton is perfectly awkward. Luis Guzman has two really solid scenes, and never shows up again. Much of this is thanks to the source material of Elmore Leonard, but Steven Soderbergh directs this deftly as well. This is easily his funniest and most entertaining movie, and this is the film which probably got him the OCEAN’S ELEVEN job. In fact, OUT OF SIGHT has as much – or more – humor than the OCEAN’S movies, and it is a better film to boot.


This is a story about people who are constantly worried about what others think of them. And, so, we are consistently reminded that we are viewers as voyeurs. There are often moments stopped as if a photograph is being taken, and plot points revolve around people being seen in the papers or on television. Soderbergh, as he is wont to do, uses plenty of canted angels and odd color filters to keep us off guard. He infuses this with a nice score with a decent amount of low key jazz in the right spots. This is a cool, well made film.

In case I haven’t given it away… I love this film. It will always hold a place in my all time favorite crime films, and is probably a top ten all time movie for me. If this is one that has escaped you, I can’t recommend it enough.




FINAL SCORE: 8.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on November 19, 2015.

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