Out of Sight is perfect for this collection: A favourite actor and a favourite director adapting a favourite author’s novel. It may not be an all-time great, but it’s definitely an all-time favourite.
What is it about Out of Sight that makes it so enjoyable? Well, firstly, it should be noted that it comes from a wonderful novel of the same title by Elmore Leonard, one of my favourite authors. Leonard had a ridiculously prolific career and many of his books were adapted into movies1, but none as successfully as this one. The movies stays extremely true to the novel, in events and dialogue and more importantly, in tone.
The movie stars George Clooney as Jack Foley, an escaped convict planning one last score with his friend and partner Buddy, played by Ving Rhames. Along the way, Clooney runs into Jennifer Lopez, who plays Karen Sisco, a US Marshall. The two spend time locked in a trunk and improbably hit it off. The rest of the movie Sisco tracks Foley, but whether it’s to capture him or be with him becomes less and less clear.
Another thing that makes this movie so great is the cast (even including Steve Zahn wasn’t enough to bring this production down!) George Clooney is pretty close to Peak Clooney here: he’s cool, he’s capable, he’s sexy and he’s the street-smartest guy in the room. Clooney is a fantastic actor when he’s playing different versions of himself, and this role is a perfect example of that. Dennis Farina, Albert Brooks, Michael Keaton, Don Cheadle and Rhames make up the bulk of a stellar ensemble.
The director, Steven Soderbergh, is famous for getting career-best performances from his actors (Benicio Del Toro in Traffic comes to mind,) and you can add Jennifer Lopez to his list. She puts in a surprisingly strong performance in Out of Sight, and despite how few scenes she and Clooney share, the entire movie hinges on their chemistry, and luckily their chemistry is fantastic:
I mean, come on. This movie oozes chemistry. Lopez’s Sisco is more than just a sexy heroine, she’s every bit an equal to Foley, and probably the more intelligent of the two. The scenes with her and Farina, Sisco’s cop father, are fantastic as well. Farina passed away earlier this year and it’s performances like this one that make you realize what a fine actor he was.
The movie, of course, isn’t perfect — Zahn is, in my opinion, the weakest link in the film. And, while it would be great to have Clooney and Lopez together more often, it’s the strength of their few scenes together, and wanting more, that keeps the film moving.
Out of Sight is the perfect example of a movie that, when you catch it on TV, no matter what part of the movie is on, you’ll stop to watch.
More from the Favourite Movies Series
Get Shorty, 3:10 to Yuma and Rum Punch (as Jackie Brown) are other successful examples.↩