Tag Archives: Steven Soderbergh

Out of Sight (1998)

When I first saw this movie it was probably my first exposure to the work of Steven Soderbergh, Out of Sight sees Geroge Clooney making up for the previous year’s Batman and Robin. This movie also reminds us that before she became known to the world as J-Lo, Jennifer Lopez was once known for being an actress.

Bank robber Jack Foley (Clooney) is breaking out of prison when a cop Karen Sisco (Lopez) almost foils his escape plan. Having to improvise he bundles her into the boot of his car with him as his friend Buddy (Ving Rhames) drives them far away from the prison. Despite the circumstances Foley and Karen get to talking and find they actually enjoy each other’s company. However they have to return to their normal lives which involves Karen chasing after Foley who in turn is determined to complete one last job.

This film had a lot of attention on it’s release for the chemistry between Clooney and Lopez (as well as about  J.Lo’s behind) and it has to be said the chemistry between them is amazing. The scene where they are stuck together in the car boot  is sizzling with sexual attraction and you can believe they would both take the risks to see each other again while still intent on completing their own separate missions.

Granted I haven’t seen a lot of Lopez’s films but this is my second favourite movie of hers (after Anaconda of course). She makes for a believable kick-ass cop and her relationship with her dad rounds out her character rather than just being Clooney’s love interest. Maybe Lopez needs to return to the crime genre rather than the same old rom-coms she seems to be turning out lately.

As well as the romance, there is also a thrilling story to be told. Soderbergh mixes up the narriative with flashbacks to Foley’s time in prison and explaining how he got to where he was at the beginning of the film. It’s fun seeing the story come together and wondering what Foley’s last job will be and seeing him going up against the proper bad guys lead by Don Cheadle. The script is also fun and snappy whether it’s the sparring between Foley and Karen or Foley’s interactions with Buddy.

This is the film to show anyone when they talking about what on-screen chemistry is, although not the best example for dating tips. (Bundling a girl into a car only works in this film, not in any other situation, even if it is by George Clooney).

Rating 4.5/5 – sexy,fun and thrilling-if only all crime films can be as good as this.

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Haywire (2011)

I miss Steven Soderbergh. I wish the talented director of Out Of Sight, Magic Mike and Behind The Candelabra hadn’t retired. Still I recently got to see his 2011 action-thriller Haywire, can this briefly fill the void I’ve been missing?

Mallory (Gina Carano) works for a private company on ‘operations’, where her last case was rescuing a hostage. However all is not as it seems and soon after Mallory is running for her life with her former colleagues and the police after her. 

The opening scene is great as we’re introduced to Mallory and her colleague Aaron (Channing Tatum) at a small diner in upstate New York, which features a brutal and unexpected fight scene before going back in time to see how they ended up like this. From then on Haywire is an intreaging, fun, action film with also a nice amount of humour which helps break up the complicated plot and take a breather from the adrenaline packed fight scenes.

It’s great to see a strong female as the lead character in an action film. Steven Soderbergh built the role of Mallory around Carano who had never acted before, instead she was a mixed martial artist fighter. As expected the fight scenes are the high point in this film with Carano doing all her own stunts. Although she is not the most expresive actress she handles the role well and is strongly supported by her more experience cast members (most of whom she proceeds to beat up). Michael Fassbender in particular is great as a British operative and Bill Paxton has fun as Mallory’s protective dad. Only Ewan McGregor as Mallory’s boss and ex husband feels a bit out of place in the film, maybe because its hard to imagine tough cookie Mallory falling for such a slimeball.

However there are some downsides to this film that can’t be overlooked. The plot is overly complicated and confusing, I found it difficult to keep up at times and remember what the hell is going on and who is who and what they were doing. There is also moments of extream stupidity by the villians of the piece  and considering they are all meant to be intellegant people you wonder how they got their high powered jobs in the first place.

Although not perfect, Haywire is a fun film and reminds you of how versatile a director Soderbergh is,  jumping into different genres and coming up with something interesting and entertaining. It’s a shame we won’t be seeing any new movies from him, but if you’re a fan of Soderbergh and like action films, then give Haywire and Carano a chance. Just don’t expect to understand the plot.

Rating 3.5/5-too overly complicated for its own good but the fight scenes are ace.

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Side Effects

I’ve been meaning to write this review up for a while but it’s been a bit of a busy month, so I’ve been a bit slow with updating the reviews section.

Side Effects is Steven Soderbergh’s last film. The story follows Emily (Rooney Mara) a young woman dealing with her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) recently being released from prison for insider trading. Although she is happy he is released she is suffering from depression and unable to cope, so she seeks help from a psychiatrist Jonathan (Jude Law). After consulting with Emily’s former doctor (Catherine Zeta-Jones) Emily is prescribed a new drug Ablixa. Unfortunately Emily experiences side effects from the drugs which have far-reaching consequences for everyone involved.

This is one of those films that are difficult to review without giving away major spoilers. Luckily if you don’t go looking too much for them you should be able to go into Side Effects unaware of the major plot twist and turns. If you do avoid reading any spoilers than Side Effects should be able to enjoy the film as an intelligent medical-drama-thriller. Side Effects also gives us four great performances from its main players. It’s good to see Jude Law proving himself in another strong role after Anna Karenina, it reminds you why he was hyped up all those years ago.

The story is gripping as you follow Emily in her mental descent and when the story shifts to Jonathan’s perspective the story starts to reveal itself even more. The film raises lots of questions about responsibility and blame while questioning the motives to wanting and prescribing certain drugs. There are some good plot twists in the story which don’t undermine the action that has gone before it. In fact it makes you question what you have seen earlier. If this is going to be Soderbergh’s last film at least he leaves us with a film to saviour rather than to dispair.

Rating 4/5-gripping and tense, Soderbergh departs from the film world with an intelligent thriller that boasts an excellent cast and an intense plot. Au revoir Soderbergh!

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