He’s a bank robber, she’s a US Marshal he and his buddy hold hostage when they’re busting out of prison, and they spend some time on the way discussing Faye Dunaway movies. It’s a cramped sort of space for a Meet Cute, but it works amazingly well.
It’s not surprising to find this sort of thing happening in a movie based on an Elmore Leanoard novel. His characters are often either cops or criminals, but his books usually have this wry detachment towards that aspect — it’s not law breaking or law enforcement he talks about, but the social ecosystem they inhabit. What makes it all so entertaining is that his characters have a life. They have functioning brains, and they use it most of the time. And, most importantly, they can talk. It’s a bit like the feeling you get while watching Pulp Fiction – no wonder Tatantino eventually adapted one of his novels in Jackie Brown.
I’ve often seen the term “sexy thriller” used to describe Out of Sight. It’s an apt choice of phrase. Especially when you think about the time-out scene. She’s having a drink at the bar in the hotel she’s staying at, he walks up to her table and they talk. For a while, they decide to have a time-out. In terms of its setup, it’s a bit like the conversation between DeNiro and Pacino in Heat – two people on opposite sides of the law holstering their guns and having a drink. Except here, it’s a prelude to lovemaking.
I love the way this entire sequence has been shot, chopped and scored (to borrow a Robert Rodriguez phrase). Many of the shots are framed in tight close-up, which creates this feeling of intimacy. It’s interesting how it’s been edited. The conversation at the bar and the scene that follows in the hotel room (just before they make love) are interspersed. It’s not the anticipation of them having sex that is the big attraction here. It’s how they have so much fun talking to each other. It’s so amazingly sexy, I couldn’t have cared less if they had skipped the sex and spent all night talking.
The other scene that I love comes right at the end. Jack (Clooney) is in cuffs, sitting in the back of a van. Karen(Lopez) is in front, escorting him to prison. Another prisoner is brought in, introduced as Hijirah Henry (Samuel L. Jackson).
Jack: What kind of a name is Hijirah?
Hijirah: It’s Islamic.
Jack: What’s it stand for?
Hijirah: The “Hijirah” was Mohammed’s flight from Mecca.
Jack: His flight?
Hijirah: Brothers in Leavenworth gave me that name.
Jack: You were in Leavenworth, huh?
Hijirah: For a time.
Hijirah: Meaning, time came, I left.
Jack: You busted out.
Hijirah: I prefer to think of it as an exodus from an undesirable place.
Jack: How long before they caught up with you?
Hijirah: That time?
Jack: There were others?
Hijirah: Yeah. That was the ninth.
Jack: The ninth?
Hijirah: Well, ten if you count that prison hospital in Ohio I walked away from.
Jack: You done a lot of walkin’, Henry.
Jack: Hijirah. Now we’re off to Glades.
Hijirah: Yeah, it looks that way. I was supposed to leave last night with the lady marshal, but for some reason she wanted to wait.
Jack: She did, huh?
Hijirah: Guess it’s cheaper taking two of us down in one van.
Jack: Could be. Maybe she thought we had a lot to talk about.
Hijirah: Really? Like what?
Jack: I don’t know. Long ride to Florida.
If you’ve seen George Clooney and Samuel L Jackson act before, you know exactly how this conversation would’ve sounded. Watch how Clooney pauses for exactly the right amount of time before he says “There were others?”. The value of that little pause is immeasurable. And watch how he has this straight, yet smiling face right at the end when he says, “Long ride to Florida.”
Aside: Everytime I hear the line “There were others?”, I am reminded of this moment in Arsenic and Old Lace when Cary Grant says “Others? You mean, more than one others?” But more on that movie in a separate Freeze Frame post.