Out of Sight, 1998.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Starring George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, Albert Brooks, Michael Keaton, and Steve Zahn.
Steven Soderbergh’s electric classic Out of Sight — part heist caper and part rom-com — arrives on Blu-ray again with a print based on a new 4K master approved and color graded by cinematographer Elliot Davis. The extras were ported over from past editions, but it’s still worth picking up if you haven’t nabbed it on disc before.
I’ve enjoyed many of Steven Soderbergh’s movies, but for some reason, I had never watched Out of Sight until now. I had gotten halfway through it when my wife came into the room and asked what I was watching; she had never seen it either, so I started it over. I didn’t mind — there’s an energy to the movie that doesn’t make an immediate replay of half of it seem like a chore.
Based on the Elmore Leonard novel, Out of Sight was a breakthrough film for Soderbergh as well as his two leads: Jennifer Lopez, who plays federal marshal Karen Sisco with icy verve, and George Clooney, who brings his good-natured “Aw shucks” charisma to the role of criminal Jack Foley. (Yes, Soderbergh broke through with 1989’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape, but his subsequent films underperformed before Out of Sight came out; without this film, it’s possible his career would have continued a downward spiral.)
Part crime movie and part romantic comedy, the plot has Sisco and Foley crossing paths multiple times as he escapes from prison and hatches a plot for one last heist with some fellow criminals while she seeks to bring him in. The rest of the cast is sublime, with Ving Rhames in the role of Foley’s pal Buddy, Steve Zahn as a clueless ally of Foley, Don Cheadle playing rival criminal Maurice, Albert Brooks as the wealthy white collar criminal who’s the focus of the heist, and Dennis Farina as Karen’s tough-as-nails dad, Marshall Sisco (it’s unclear what he does for a living). Michael Keaton even shows up for an amusing cameo as Karen’s girlfriend, and Samuel L. Jackson makes an appearance during the denouement as a fellow con.
Scott Frank’s script is taut and whip-smart, with plenty of funny situational banter. One of my favorite moments is when Keaton’s character shows up wearing a shirt emblazoned with “FBI” and Karen’s father asks him, “So when you’re undercover, do you wear a shirt that says ‘Undercover’?” Keaton gives Farina his patented clueless guy look — the exchange elicited out loud laughter from my wife and I.
While the early 21st century has seen its share of Elmore Leonard novels turned into movies, the 90s seemed like a magical time for those efforts, including Out of Sight, Get Shorty, and Jackie Brown. Or maybe that’s because movies don’t hold the same allure for me as they did in the old days, now that we have so much streamed content that plays like 10-episode films. Don’t get me wrong — I still enjoy new movies, and I review plenty of them here when they come out on disc, but it just doesn’t feel the same anymore.
I suppose part of that is also the gradual decline of home video sales. Thankfully, Kino Lorber is one of the smaller boutique companies that still cares a lot about the medium, and they’ve released Out of Sight on Blu-ray with a print based on a new 4K master approved and color graded by cinematographer Elliot Davis. (There’s also a 4K Ultra HD edition.) I had no complaints about the way it looks — it has a light amount of grain, and the day glow colors of Miami pop off the screen during those scenes.
Unfortunately, Kino Lorber didn’t commission any new bonus features, so what’s here has been ported over from previous releases. The content looks like it was originally shot for DVD, and here’s what you’ll find:
• Commentary with Soderbergh and Frank: The director and screenwriter sit down for a wide-ranging discussion of the film, including its early development, the differences between the novel and the script, and plenty of anecdotes from production. It’s definitely worth your time.
• Inside Out of Sight (25 minutes): Soderbergh, members of the cast, and Leonard sit down to discuss the making of the film. It’s a pretty standard making-of, but it’s still worth your time too.
• Deleted scenes (22 minutes): The excised footage found here runs the gamut from small moments to full-blown scenes. It’s easy to see why Soderbergh left all of it out of the film (too bad there’s no optional commentary track), but there are some really nice moments in here. Of course, as Hemingway said, sometimes you need to kill your darlings.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★