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Out of Sight

Year: 1998
Production Co: Jersey Films
Studio: Universal
Director: Stephen Soderbergh
Producer: Danny DeVito/Michael Shamberg
Writer: Elmore Leonard/Scott Frank
Cast: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Steve Zahn, Don Cheadle, Catherine Keener, Isiah Washington, Dennis Farina, Luis Guzman, Albert Brooks, Nancy Allen, Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson
The pairing of director Stephen Soderbergh and novelist Elmore Leonard is a match made in heaven and the jazzy soundtrack, directorial embellishments and fractured narrative style make for a very good movie.

George Clooney actually mugs a little too much as career crim Jack Foley who orchestrates his ticket out of prison in Florida during a prison break.

I was much more impressed with Jennifer Lopez as Karen Sisco, a sexy but no-nonsense, soft-spoken but capable marshall who doesn't throw her weight around but knows the score, going quietly about getting her man in both senses of the word.

Sisco happens to be standing right in front of the Glades correctional facility when Foley breaks out, tunnelling up right next to her car, and it's only the quick thinking and teamwork of Foley and Buddy (Rhames) – the accomplice who's also there to pick him up – that they overpower Sisco and throw her in the trunk, Foley climbing in with her because of the inevitable roadblocks that will be looking for him.

Another accomplice, the doltish Glen (Zahn) tags along and sends their carefully laid plans right down the tubes by stranding them and releasing Sisco, and the pair have to ready themselves to go to Detroit for a big score there planned in conjunction with another former fellow inmate, fight promoter Snoopy (Cheadle).

But after spending a flirty few hours lying together in the locked trunk of the getaway car, during which Foley rambles moronically and Sisco keeps her cool, the pair can't forget each other.

She knows about the impending score in Detroit because of the idiot Glen who's told her everything, so she travels there in Foley and Buddy's tracks to crack the case, but she still can't help being drawn to the charming criminal as they keep finding excuses to run into each other.

It's was something of a dry run for the much flashier and more commercial Ocean's Eleven, and you can see Soderbergh has his favourite actors. Leonard's novels in movies form something like a little Kevin Smith-style shared universe, with Michael Keaton popping up as Ray Nicolette from Tarantino's Jackie Brown and Samuel L Jackson in the final scene cameo. JLo's hasn't been this good in a film since, and both her flash in the pan musical career and a few clunkers like The Cell and Enough have seen her virtually disappear from everywhere except the pap pages.

It shares a lot of its m.o. with Pulp Fiction – the time-crossing storyline, the fast talking urban profanity and the casual violence often delivered with sly comedy. But the sex appeal between Sisco and Foley is something an eternal manboy like Tarantino could never manage.

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