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“Out of Sight” by Elmore Leonard (Movie Review)

“Out of Sight” was released June 26, 1998. The film’s domestic box office gross was $37,562,568.
March 19, 2008 By Carlos Miller in


Before Quentin Tarantino, there was Elmore Leonard; longtime crime writer renowned for his jive-talking, con-scheming characters who discuss pop culture while committing crimes.

Tarantino, whose characters are known for their quirky, random dialogue as they commit quirky, random acts of violence, has always maintained that Leonard is one of his greatest influences.

And Leonard has always maintained that Miami is one of his greatest inspirations for his stories, which is why so many of his novels have been set down here.

And that includes Out of Sight, his 1996 novel that was turned into a 1998 movie starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, both who provide phenomenal acting performances.

In fact, there is so much sexual chemistry between Clooney and Lopez, it makes one wonder why this duo hasn’t been cast together in more movies.

Out of Sight was the first collaboration between Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh, who later collaborated on Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen.

In Out of Sight, Clooney plays a notorious bank robber named Jack Foley, who is so charming, he has been able to rob more than 200 banks without ever using a gun.

And Lopez plays Karen Sisco, a sexy and sassy federal marshal with a taste for troubled men. Some may remember the short-lived TV series Karen Sisco that ran for six months back in 2003, which was also based on Leonard’s character.

Out of Sight is an action thriller filled with black humor and a 1970s funky backbeat. The plot moves quick and the dialogue is crisp and funny.

Miami is not L.A. East

However, it falls into the trap that MiamiBeach411 writer Matt Meltzer has pointed out about other movies filmed in Miami; it fails to accurately capture Miami’s true Hispanic population dominance.

In fact, Out of Sight features only one Cuban character. And he is played by a Puerto Rican actor.

Luis Guzman, who grew up in New York City, knows enough about Cuban culture to say coño with every phrase, but fails with the accent nonetheless.

It makes you wonder if Soderbergh was unable to find a local Cuban actor that would fit the part. After all, it wasn’t like he was against using local actors because in the Director’s Commentary on the DVD, he talks about they found local actress Donna Frenzel while filming in Miami.

The movie kicks off with the Isley Brother’s It’s your thing setting the tone for the rest of the movie as Clooney’s character, Foley, walks into the SunBank on Brickell Avenue.

Foley demonstrates a mix of ruthlessness and charm as he informs bank teller Loretta (played by Miami actress Frenzel) that she is being robbed.

Foley: (pointing to a random man with a briefcase talking to a bank manager) See the man talking to your bank manager, has his case open?

Loretta: Oh, that’s Mr. Gwendon, one of our assistant managers. Our manager is Mr. Schoen, but he’s not in today.

Foley: But you see the man with the briefcase.

Loretta: Yes.

Foley: That’s my partner. He has a gun in there. If you don’t do exactly what I tell you or if you give me any kind of problem at all, I’m going to look at my partner and he’s going to shoot your Mr. Gwendon between the eyes.

Foley tells her he wants money, prompting an unsettled Loretta to start gathering bills.

Foley: This your first time being robbed? You’re doing great. Just smile so you don’t look like you’re being held up. You got a very pretty smile.

She smiles. He smiles. Then he walks out with a pocketful of stolen cash. Less than a minute later, Foley is apprehended by two Miami-Dade police officers.

Foley then finds himself in Belle Glade Correctional Institute. Only the scenes weren’t filmed at the Palm Beach County prison, but in the Louisiana State Penitentiary because not a single Florida prison would agree to work with them, much less let them enter the prison, according to Soderbergh.

Foley manages to escape from the prison through an underground tunnel, only to be confronted by a shotgun-wielding Karen Sisco (Lopez’s character), who was sitting in her car on the other side of the fence.

Foley’s partner, Buddy Bragg (played by Ving Rhames) who was also sitting on the other side of the fence waiting for Foley, ends up grabbing Sisco from behind and throws her into the trunk of his car. Foley, covered in mud, squeezes into the trunk with her.

As they head towards Miami, they discover they have a mutual passion for 1970s movies. The following is a perfect example of the dialogue that sets this movie apart from other thrillers.

Foley: Boy, it stunk in there.

Sisco: I believe it. You’re ruining a $900 suit my dad gave me.

Foley: Yeah, it went great with that 12-gauge too.

Foley:  You don’t seem all that scared.

Sisco: Of course I am.

Foley: You don’t act like it.

Sisco: What do you want me to do, scream? That wouldn’t help much, anyway. No, I’m just gonna sit here, take it easy, and wait for you to screw up.

Foley: You sound like my ex-wife.

Sisco: You were married?

Foley: Just for about a year, give or take a few days. It’s not like we didn’t get along… we had fun. We just… didn’t have… that thing, you know, that uh… that spark, you know? Gotta have that. We still talk, though.

Sisco: This is not gonna end well. These things never do.

Foley: If it turns out I get shot like a dog, it’s gonna be in the street, not off a goddamn fence.

Sisco: You must really see yourself as some kind of Clyde Barrow, huh?

Foley: You mean, of Bonnie and Clyde?

Sisco: Yeah.

Foley: The part in the movie where they get shot, when it’s Warren Beatty and…

Sisco: Faye Dunaway.

Faye Dunaway, yeah. I like her in that movie about TV.

Sisco: Network, yeah, she was good.

Foley: And that guy says he’s not gonna take any more shit from anybody.

Sisco: Peter Finch.

Yeah! Peter Finch. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take any more of your shit!”

if you were in a bar and I came up and we started talkin’... I wonder what would happen.


Foley: If you didn’t know who I was.

Sisco: You’d probably tell me.

Foley: Just saying if we met under different circumstances…

Sisco: You have got to be kidding.

Foley: Another movie I liked with Faye Dunaway was Three Days of the Condor.

Sisco: The one with Robert Redford when he was young.

Foley: Yeah.

Sisco: You know, I never thought it made sense, though… you know, the way they got together so quick.

Foley: Why not?

Sisco: I mean, romantically.

That, of course, sets the stage for the improbable romance between the escaped convict and the federal marshal. 

Watch the trailer staring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.Although Sisco manages to escape, their attraction for each other permeates the movie as she and her federal counterparts try to track down Foley in Miami and finally to Detroit, where Foley has gone to commit a diamond heist.

The movie features the obligatory South Beach scene, but it depicts it as a haven for retirees, as it was before the Art Deco revitalization. But it was not that way in 1998, which was when the movie was released and supposedly set.

But perhaps that is just part of the 1970s charm of the movie.

Paved the way for stardom

Although Out of Sight didn’t fare too well in the box-office, it was nominated for two Oscars and won several awards, including the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (between Clooney and Lopez, of course).

It is the movie that solidified Clooney’s transition from television to the big screen. In fact, it was the following year when he announced his departure from the television series ER. Today, Clooney is an A-List actor as well as a socially active director and producer.

Lopez has also since established herself as one of the most successful actresses, singers and songwriters in history. Last year, Forbes Magazine ranked her ninth in its annual 20 Richest Women in Entertainment.

So the time is ripe for them for them to work together again.

Related Categories: Movie Reviews

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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