Heavy-breather goes all the way

Movie: Out of Sight

Our Rating: 4.00

TV's smirking "ER" doc George Clooney has attempted more than several big-screen breaks but none of them has yet proven him a box-office bonanza. "Out of Sight," the sizzlingly sexy crime-caper flick based on the Elmore Leonard novel, is just the ticket.

Incarcerated in South Florida's Glades Correctional Institution for unarmed bank robbery, Clooney's good-hearted felon, Jack Foley, takes advantage of a planned escape. With his partner in crime, Buddy Bragg (Ving Rhames), on the ready and a stolen car waiting for him over the fence, the break-out looks promising. That is, until the unexpected arrival of fiery federal marshal Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez), who inadvertently becomes part of the escape.

Locked in a trunk together, the lady and the thief get very close very quickly as they discuss movies and chance encounters as the getaway car speeds down the road. When Karen is put into a decoy car with stoner Glenn Michaels (Steve Zahn), while Jack and Buddy make a clean break from her, it's clear that she's not going to let Foley get away with his latest stolen possession: her heart.

Through a series of flashbacks, the richly complex plot falls together like a jigsaw puzzle, with all of the pieces finally coming together when the action moves from sunny Miami to gloomy Detroit, where Jack and Buddy and a motley assortment of criminals plan to pull off their final heist.

Echoing the cinematic style of the '70s, director Steven Soderbergh ("sex, lies, and videotape") creates a unique playground for this odd array of characters, including Don Cheadle as a hot-headed ex-boxer/ex- con and Dennis Farina as Karen's overprotective dad. And then there's the hilariously bewigged Albert Brooks as a former white-collar criminal, who shoots his mouth off in prison about his fortune in rough-cut diamonds and becomes the target of the latest sting.

But the heart of the movie lies in the smoldering chemistry between Clooney and Lopez. Editor Anne V. Coates has assembled one of the sexiest scenes to come onscreen in a long time: Eschewing any sense of real time, Clooney and Lopez bounce back and forth from cocktail foreplay to the real thing, inducing an audience full of heavy breathers.

It may be void of summer-blockbuster special-effects, but Soderbergh's excellent ensemble cast and superb direction and editing added to the steamy coupling of Clooney and Lopez take "Out of Sight" all the way.


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