, Jennifer Lopez
In the opening scene of Out of Sight, a richly textured crime drama with characters, plot and humor to spare, a bank robber (Clooney) pauses in the middle of a holdup to smile reassuringly at the teller who's cramming cash into a bag for him. "Is this your first time being robbed?" he asks her. "You're doing great."
Doing great doesn't exactly describe Clooney's movie career to date (although One Fine Day was cute, The Peacemaker, Batman & Robin and From Dusk till Dawn were generic garbage), but his sharp, sexy turn as a gentleman bandit in Out of Sight just may change that. Deftly adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel and smartly directed by Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies and videotape), Sight is by far the ER star's best movie. In playing a career criminal who can't get a break (his getaway car stalls in that opening scene, and he's soon doing 30 years without parole), Clooney has finally found a movie role that adroitly showcases his smoldering good looks and smart-aleck demeanor.
Sight shifts back and forth in time, and viewers must pay close attention to keep up, but it's worth the effort. This movie succeeds, more so than either the brash Get Shorty or the self-indulgent Jackie Brown, both also based on Leonard books, in capturing the novelist's cockeyed comic take on small-time hoods and their never-ending skirmishes with lawmen. Make that lawwomen. Here sultry Lopez is cop to Clooney's robber. She's a federal marshal who, while on Clooney's trail following a jailbreak, finds herself attracted to him, as he is to her. The top-drawer ensemble cast features winning work by Ving Rhames, Steve Zahn and Don Cheadle as Clooney's fellow outlaws, Dennis Farina as Lopez's dad, Albert Brooks as a disgraced financier and Catherine Keener as Clooney's ex, who cheerily advises him, "Honey, try not to get shot." (And watch for Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson, both Jackie Brown vets, in unbilled cameos.) (R)
Bottom Line: A crime drama we happily cop to relishing