Out of Sight

Movie Review #872

FUN IN THE MOMENT, AND MEMORABLE FOR ITS CREATIVITY, “OUT OF SIGHT” IS NOT OUT OF MIND.

★★★
By Alexander Diminiano

out_of_sight

Released June 26, 1998 (nationwide)
Comedy, Crime, Romance
Rated R (contains profanity, graphic violence)
123 minutes

The title “Out of Sight” refers to the proverb “out of sight, out of mind.” It also denies that proverb. It explains that even if you see someone for a few minutes, they could still cross your mind in a matter of years later.

Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney encounter each other during a jailbreak, when both of them are shoved inside the trunk of a fleeing car. She’s a U.S. Marshal, and he’s the escaped convict. Or, we could say, she’s the high-class, prissy woman, and he’s the narcissistic “cool cat” who’s robbed at least 200 banks, bleeds charisma, and enjoys wasting time flicking a cigarette lighter on and off. Let’s be honest: it’s hard for even a U.S. Marshal to resist George Clooney, even if he is committing one federal crime after another.

They don’t see one another again for quite some time after the jailbreak. Lopez is assigned, a few years later, to hunt down Clooney, and when fellow Marshals discover that he might be staying at a certain hotel, she’s instructed to wait in the lobby while the other officers head up to his hotel room and break down the door. (Wanna guess what happens next?) So Clooney comes down the elevator, and when he reaches the lobby, both of them have an epiphany. “That’s the woman I saw in the trunk of my buddy’s vehicle.” And, “That’s that guy I was locked in the trunk with.” They’ve been thinking about each other quite a bit in between the two events, and neither one of them can believe they’re looking at the other for a second time.

“Out of Sight” sets out to be a part-romance. The idea of two people realizing they’re in love when they’ve only seen each other twice is a premise that I can appreciate so much more than the generic love story. It’s definitely unconventional. But it also makes the romance less of a concern in the movie than it should be, and it leads to a very dissatisfying ending.

The film tips its hat many, many times to the pop culture icon Quentin Tarantino established during the 1990s. The diamond heist that is told in separate stories (“Reservoir Dogs”). The perpendicular stories, ordered in a deftly nonlinear structure (“Pulp Fiction”). The basis on an Elmore Leonard novel, and a character’s removal from prison back into society, only to return to a life of recreational crime once again (“Jackie Brown”). The characters who can chat about absolutely anything, even in the most dangerous situations (any of the three). Can I also add that Ving Rhames plays prominently as Clooney’s partner, and that Samuel L. Jackson appears at the end of the film? They’re both quite memorable Tarantino veterans.

And yet “Out of Sight” still feels fairly new, if predictable. This is a very fun and a terrifically funny movie. It’s a comedy-drama, but it spends an hour indulging its plot in pure goofiness before it transcends into an even more entertaining, far more poignant second half. It does have Tarantino formula, but Steven Soderbergh is clearly the one who made the movie. “Out of Sight” isn’t his best work, but it’s a great deal of fun.

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