1998’s Out of Sight was director Steven Soderbergh and actor George Clooney’s first collaboration. It would lead to a highly profitable partnership that would in turn produce the Ocean’s franchise for Warner Brothers. This would lead to both Soderbergh and Clooney starting their own production company, Section Eight, which would serve them in their future endeavors together. As deWaard and Tait point out in their chapter entitled Impresario of Indiewood: Soderbergh as Sellebrity Auteur; “(Section Eight) focused on distributing challenging films to the multiplex and shielding them from studio interference.” (pg 38) But did the successful formula start with Ocean’s 11, or was their first collaboration in fact the spark that started the fire?
Out of Sight shares many aesthetic elements with its Ocean’s counterparts which give it a flare that is still uniquely Hollywood. These similarities start with its protagonist, Jack Foley, who’s habits of thievery have landed him in prison. Much akin to his counterpart Danny Ocean, the central character in the Ocean’s trilogy, Jack is a witty, cunning crook who is as good at pulling peoples strings as he is at cracking safes. This specific character is portrayed by George Clooney, who, as I’d like to note, is excellent at playing lovable anti-heroes. Aside from the protagonist, the overarching narrative seems to conform to what deWaard and Tait label “an idea of ‘pure entertainment’ (as being) at the core of the (Ocean’s) series.” (pg 51) This is incredibly apparent in its repeated turns toward a happy ending. For example, the final act of the film, while featuring plenty of murder and mayhem, takes a decidedly playful turn towards the tale end. Our protagonist Foley finds himself cornered by his love interest Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez), instead of ending in bloodshed, however, they are able to navigate their way out of Foley going back to prison. This leads to a Hollywood ending if there ever was one, as our two main characters end up riding off into the sunset together.
This is all to say that Out of Sight conforms to the same staples that the Ocean’s trilogy does. Lovable anti-hero played by George Clooney? Check. Twisting and turning heist narrative that features a romantic sub plot? Check. Eventual happy ending? Bingo. As deWaard and Tait state quite eloquently, “Ocean’s Eleven has all the necessary ingredients of a high-concept block-buster: a pre-sold property in the form of a remake, slick visuals set to an infectious soundtrack, a familiar crime/heist genre, witty dialogue, fashionable costumes, a glitzy setting in Las Vegas, and multiple music montages.” (pg 50) Aside from the pre-sold property and the setting, Out of Sight definitely fits the bill.