Jack Foley (George Clooney) storms out of a corporate building and wrenches the tie from his neck, then flings it to the ground. He's not in a good mood, but recovers his composure quickly and walks straight across the street into a bank, saunters up to a teller and demands all the money she has in a large envelope - not the bills at the bottom, leave those - and compliments her on her ability with handling a robbery. He then walks out, cool as a cucumber, and climbs into his car... which will not start. Within seconds the cops are pointing guns at him, and the game is up: it's back to jail for Jack.
Elmore Leonard was celebrated as one of the finest crime writers who ever lived, especially for his way with dialogue, but adapting his work to the screen did not always quite capture that je ne sais quoi he was best admired for. With Steven Soderbergh's version of Out of Sight, scripted by Scott Frank, finally a lot of people believed cinema had truly done justice to the author, and although it wasn't a big hit by any means, it became well-liked by cultists who appreciated its snappy chat, sharp, character-based humour, and mixture of romance and thrills. There was something old Hollywood about it, no matter its new Hollywood trappings.
That class did mean that it came across as a tad too slick for its own good, and with George Clooney so suave and handsome and Jennifer Lopez, his co-star, so bright and beautiful, it was the sort of movie that could give you an inferiority complex merely by watching one of their scenes together. Whatever they were like before or after, these were true movie stars you were watching in this instance, and Soderbergh presented them as glamorous as they would ever be here. So much so that Lopez for one found her acting career forever trying to live up to her performance as FBI agent Karen Sisco, as pretty much everything she did after this was in its long shadow.
But if there was a lot about Out of Sight too good to be true, at least it was good, and you could enjoy an excellent cast seizing every opportunity the script gave them with both hands. Some of those famous faces had just one scene to make an impression, but if Soderbergh seemed like an actor's director that was never more true than he did here, with the supporting characters being less capable and canny than Jack and Karen the source of much of the humour and plot. Not that those two don't make mistakes, but their errors seem like the overconfidence of blessed immortals, whereas everyone else's mishaps are purely human, whether they be poorly laid out plans or merely tripping on the stairs.
The structure of the movie was part flashback, part modern day as we discover why Jack was in prison, and how he broke out by using his knack for the long con which had deserted him in his moment of losing that self control he obviously prided himself on. The escape is how he meets Karen, and they end up sharing the back of a car together, a very close encounter where they both realise they have met their soulmate and how frustrating it is that they are on opposite sides of the law. Not that this stops them enjoying a liaison halfway through the movie, a famous scene which intercuts Nicolas Roeg-style between the bedroom they consummate their union in and their meeting in a mostly empty bar beforehand as the snowflakes flutter down outside. Other than that, the pleasure of watching a bunch of actors relaxing into roles seemingly tailor made for them was not to be sneezed at, from Ving Rhames as Jack's formidable right hand man, Don Cheadle's unrelenting gangster or Albert Brooks as the crooked businessman with all those diamonds. Smooth music by David Holmes.
Versatile American writer, director and producer whose Sex Lies and Videotape made a big splash at Cannes (and its title has become a cliche). There followed an interesting variety of small films: Kafka, King of the Hill, noir remake The Underneath, Schizopolis (which co-starred his ex-wife) and Gray's Anatomy.
Then came Out of Sight, a smart thriller which was successful enough to propel Soderbergh into the big league with The Limey, Erin Brockovich, Oscar-winning Traffic and classy remake Ocean's 11. When Full Frontal and his Solaris remake flopped, he made a sequel to Ocean's 11 called Ocean's 12, material he returned to with Ocean's 13. Che Guevara biopics, virus thriller Contagion and beat 'em up Haywire were next, with the director claiming he would retire after medication thriller Side Effects and Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra.