It had to happen eventually. The George Clooney breakthrough. And, for that matter, the Steven Soderbergh comeback. Out Of Sight, another in the sterling canon of Elmore Leonard adaptations, is the proverbial double-whammy. Clooney has never looked so cool or acted with such silken-tongued charm, holding the screen with all the debonair magnetism of a late-breaking Cary Grant. Soderbergh, no longer swamped by the post-Sex Lies And Videotape hoopla, has dispensed with his fringe existence and lent an intelligent lustre to the Leonard vibe, at once more weighty than Get Shorty and more thrilling than Jackie Brown, conjuring up a classy, jivey, beautifully laid-back, oh-so-sexy heist movie.
Using a tricksy and clever, but still subtle, multiple timeline structure - waltzing back and forth from the prison days to the present to the events that saw the luckless Foley nailed in th first place - Soderbergh establishes that Foley and partner Buddy Bragg (Ving Rhames) are working their way up to a big shake-down, a $5 million diamond stash in the stately Chicago retreat of another former inmate, Richard Ripley (Brooks). And while the trickily amoral romance gathers heat and Sisco frets with the knowledge that she really should be taking her foe down rather than to bed, a curious array of criminal parties (pothead Steve Zahn, Don Cheadle's psychotic mobster, Brooks' whiney fraudster, and a couple of cameo gems) stumble their way toward the diamonds and the inevitable shower of gunplay.
Displaying the sublime chemistry of an old-school double-act, Clooney and Lopez are electric, simply the sexiest cinema pas de deux for years. The groovy-funny script, capturing all the spin and idiom of Leonard's succulent prose, grants them the requisite feistiness before, in the luscious seduction sequence, dropping a few gears into a sensationally breathy sexual confrontation in a hotel bar. But Soderbergh doesn't blow all his class on the love angle. He dabbles in some pleasurably sicko twists on formula shoot-outs and a spread of story-centric stylistic flashes that mark the difference between real talent and overweening enthusiasm. And all the characters, rich and witty, interact with the cool insouciance and hilarity that are the benchmark of the modern crime caper.
There is something joyfully effortless about this movie. It doesn't move, it glides. Granted, its leisureliness may infuriate those who demand their films to be more pumped up and it is unmistakably set within the overseen and morally suspect Leonard milieu of loveable crooks and their incompetent capers. But there is no getting away from the simplicity of its success - great script based on a good book, good actors working with great characters, a great director empowered to be great again.