My Original Review From June, 1998:
Elmore Leonard has had his novels adapted to the screen quite a bit recently, and yet none have been completely or really near successful in bringing his work exactly to the big screen. Of all of them, "Out Of Sight" definitely gets the closest.
Quentin Tarantino's adaptation, "Jackie Brown", was a mess, "Get Shorty" grew on me after a few viewings, but I still felt that it was simply broad Hollywood comedy and not that interesting.
But "Out Of Sight" is different. The dialogue flows much better. The actors simply look like they're having fun. Especially George Clooney, who hasn't quite hit it off at the box office yet. Clooney plays Jack Foley, famed bank robber, who's just broken out of jail. Karen Sisco, played by Jennifer Lopez, is the Federal Marshal on his trail. But during their meetings along the way, the two begin to fall for each other; this could have been handled dumbly, but it's the way that Steven Soderberg, the director, plays with the film's structure, with time looping in and around itself, and little things like freeze frames, that make the time in this film almost more perfect, and the structure, much more fun.
It's also the way the film is shot and edited, comedy here is timed almost a hundred percent perfectly. And the comedy is smarter and funnier than almost anything I've seen since Barry Levinson's "Wag The Dog".
The supporting players all have wonderful lives of their own; Ving Rhames as Clooney's sidekick is excellent; he makes the most of an already well written supporting role. Don Cheadle as the bad guy of the film is both wickedly funny(especially during one talk about how he has "vertically integrated" himself into the world of crime) and scary. Steve Zahn, as a wasted crook, is hilarious.
Timing is everything here; the comedy is so sharp that it's unfortunate that it doesn't quite mesh in the final scene, where everyone involved tries to rob the house of a former jail mate who's quite rich, played by Albert Brooks. What works is how the final scenes are layed out, with people going back and forth between the teams searching the house, and in one of the scenes grosser moments, a bad guy learns why they put the safety on guns. The movie begins to get serious towards the end, but it doesn't quite go over the edge, it somewhat sits on the fence. Small complaint, though, for an otherwise excellent film.
Jennifer Lopez is excellent here as the federal marshal who has to do her job to find Clooney's Foley character, but can't keep her heart from getting in the way. She makes this a great female role. She's tough, smart, and she brings a lot of character to the role. It's a fantastic performance. Clooney, thankfully, has dropped his "head down, eyes up" way of performing and finally, he gives a performance that's honestly quite excellent. None of the actors in this film gives a performance that isn't far above average.
"Out Of Sight" isn't quite perfect, and there are moments where it falters in tone, becoming a little violent in the midst of crime comedy. The dialogue here works so well though, that any small fault in tone can be forgiven. Excellent performances all around in "Out Of Sight", and actors that are perfect in their roles. It's a joy to watch actors have this much fun with such great dialogue.And the humor here is almost too good. Leonard writes books about criminals who aren't quite perfect in the way they think; they're always fascinating in what they say to each other. Here we don't feel like we have characters built into a movie. We feel like we're coming in on their daily lives, like they've had lives of their own before these events ever happened, and that's refreshing.
"Out Of Sight", although not quite perfect, is easily one of the very best films of the year, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was still on my top 10 list at year's end.
Picture: Flawless. I'll let the disc do some of the talking here, as a wonderful new feature makes its debut on this disc. Text notes about how the transfer was brought into being are part of the extra features included on this collector's edition. The disc itself was made from a high-definition(1080i) widescreen master. Director Steven Soderberg himself supervised the transfer himself in Los Angeles. The disc has outstanding clarity and color saturation, and is also 16x9 enhanced, bringing about excellent definition and detail to the picture quality. In terms of picture quality, it seems almost equal in terms of color and clarity to the theatrical presentation I viewed last Summer. For an example of how wonderfully correct the color saturation and definition is, take a look at the blue tint on the "Detroit"(#24) chapter. The cold blue tint comes across perfectly and with razor sharpness on this disc. There were no compression artifacts that I saw, not even any shimmering or anything.
Sound: Bassy and outstanding. Check out how rich some of the songs sound, like chapter 3's "Basketball" by composer David Holmes, or how "Fight The Power" starts off chapter 24. The bass in the songs is clear and has a serious kick. Dialogue also is produced excellently and clearly. There aren't many active or action scenes in the film, which is mainly dialogue, but there's some just phenomenal songs on the soundtrack, and in the bonus materials section is a series of song highlights. Click, and you're taken directly to the song's location in the film. According to the disc's notes, the sound for the disc was taken directly from the 24-bit 5.1 channel master. "Out Of Sight" was originally recorded in SDDS. The only thing annoying about the sound on this disc is not the sound itself, but the fact that you have to go back to the menu to change the audio track. This is especially annoying when there is commentary on a disc, like this one has.
Menus:Super cool. The main menus(bonus, documentary and...well, main main menu all start off playing a scene from the film, then, slowly, the menu options appear and the scene freezes. Definitely stylish, cool, interactive and easy to use.
Extras: A trailer that I'd never seen before for the film with some strange editing(can anyone tell me if this is an early trailer or what?), the 25 minute documentary "Inside Out Of Sight", a mix of scenes and interviews with the cast and crew, production notes, music highlights, commentary from director Steven Soderberg and Scott Frank and a 25 minute reel of deleted scenes.
The commentary by Frank and Soderberg is quite hilarious, reminding me of the sort of friendly-sounding talk that "The Usual Suspects" team of director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie had on their commentary for "the Usual Suspects." Frank and Soderberg are great for the commentary, providing interesting info and tidbits rather than just telling us, the audience, what's onscreen. And any commentary that starts off with the hilarious "Here we go, another episode of a couple of white guys sitting around talking," sets the mood for a funny and frank discussion on the film.
Notes:I didn't really care for the packaging, which requires the user to lift the disc from the outside rim to get it out of the case. You'll have to see it to understand, but I didn't like it. Maybe it's just my humble opinion. Also included is a nifty little booklet on the film.