The Set of 400: #172 – My Favorite Tussle

Today! Because this is the dumbest fucking shakedown in the history of shakedowns –

Out of Sight (1998)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (x2)

Starring George Clooney (x3), Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames (x3), Don Cheadle (x3), Albert Brooks (x4), Dennis Farina, Nancy Allen (x2), Michael Keaton (x5), Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener (x3), Luis Guzman (x4), Connie Sawyer, James Black, Viola Davis, Paul Calderon, Samuel L. Jackson (x4), Isaiah Washington, Keith Loneker

All of the sleek cool on display in #249 Ocean’s Eleven is directly attributable to Soderbergh’s work on Out of Sight – one of the great unacknowledged sequels of all time. There is again a heist at the center of the film, but it unfolds in a completely different way. Where Ocean’s is pretty straightforward, with only some narrative somersaults at the end to heighten the impact of the caper itself, Out of Sight flips in and out of the linear tale, explaining the characters prior interactions in prison (virtually all the guys were in prison at some point), and how and why this grand Detroit house robbery came about.

The cast is first rate across the board, but none more so than Jennifer Lopez as Marshal Karen Sisco, kidnapped while Clooney’s Jack breaks out of jail, plunging them both in the trunk of the getaway car, where the hot, sweaty romance begins to blossom. Ridiculous, right? But it totally works, in that marvelous Elmore Leonard way. I want to emphasize how good Lopez is here, because I don’t think she will ever really get the credit she deserves as an actress. As time went by, she did more and more romantic comedies and middling TV shows, but her career’s start – with Selena and Out of Sight and…Anaconda – signaled her as a major talent, capable of a lot more than she’s done. Sure, her music career always came first, and those Affleck films sure didn’t help things, but I always hoped she’d get back to some great character work. Not too late, JLo!

No reason to get blue about it!

There are a bunch of ’90s movies similar to Out of Sight – it’s almost like film noir of the ’50s, this was just the decade for this manner of pseudo-comic violent crime romance, and I was way into them, as you’ll see in the days to come. The only other one I’ll touch on here is the one I teased above – the one that should have you questioning what in the hell I think Out of Sight is a sequel to. Some of you certainly already know where I’m going here, but I never hear this said out loud – if #175 Patriot Games (so recently discussed) is a sequel to Hunt For Red October (even though it should’ve been a prequel, given the book series), then Out of Sight is absolutely a sequel to Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, released the previous Christmas. Sure, the plots have no connections, and they were made by different studios, but as Hunt For Red October and Patriot Games both feature James Earl Jones as the same guy, so too does Out of Sight feature Michael Keaton’s FBI man Ray Nicolette, straight out of Jackie Brown. Both are Leonard books (Jackie Brown based on the novel Rum Punch), and both actually have this character in them – it wasn’t just some cute movie bullshit. He’s not the main character of either film by a long shot, but nonetheless! Also, maybe your contrary argument would be that Samuel L. Jackson also appears in both films, but as different characters. Does he? There is a quick explanation of who he is at the very end of Out of Sight (where he pops up uncredited), and while this doesn’t seem to point to him actually being Jackie Brown’s Ordell Robbie, his whole purpose here is as a prison escape artist – is it such a stretch that he’d also change his name after busting out of prisons? Okay, maybe this is a prequel to Jackie Brown – the order of the books’ publications bear this out! – but they are certainly the same film universe. Bring on part three, already! The Sodantino-verse lives!

In a movie with a ton of great MVP contenders – Steve Zahn’s hilarious, sunglassed Glenn, Catherine Keener’s wonderfully comic Adele – I have to go with former L.A. Rams guard Keith Loneker in his first of far too few film roles, as White Boy Bob, who suffers the Funniest Film Death in Movie History.

I’m obviously not above spoiling things here, but out of context his death would not elicit laughs, so this is what you get

Tons of folks advancing to the Threes, and only #294 1941‘s Nancy Allen joining the Twos, so instead let’s focus on the litany of Four-Timers – Albert Brooks (#234 The Simpsons Movie, #334 Lost in America, #331 Twilight Zone), Samuel L. (#332 Phantom Menace, Patriot Games, #224 The Avengers), and Luis Guzman (#217 Magnolia, #368 Anger Management, #300 Punch Drunk Love) and our nineteenth Five-Timer, Michael Keaton (#185 Multiplicity, #205 Batman Returns, #393 The Dream Team, #282 Johnny Dangerously)!

Unsurprisingly, I feel Keaton was totally robbed of that Oscar for Birdman

Coming tomorrow! This movie was shot in 3B – Three Beers, and it looks good, eh?

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