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Blu-ray Review: The Lookout

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Instead of diving in to the eventual bank robbery, The Lookout spends 40 minutes building its characters before the idea of a heist is brought into the script. Headed by a flawless performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Lookout is a gripping character study with numerous angles and styles that could have settled to be a generic genre movie.

Jeff Daniels takes on a wonderful supporting role as a blind man in perfect sync with Levitt, whose own medical condition causes mental lapses. His need to write everything down to remember what he’s done and needs to do is perfectly inserted into the script. While the extended character development may seem unnecessary, the writing ensures many of the details given to the audience through basic conversation plays a role during the finale.

The plot doesn’t twist or deliver surprises. That’s not its purpose. Watching Levitt deal with his condition while maintaining a normal life (along with handling the consequences that brought him to the situation) is fantastic cinema by itself. The Lookout doesn’t even need the bank robbery to work. The dramatic elements and Daniels’ oddball, funny style gels into an entertaining piece of film by themselves.

Drawn into an ugly situation for a variety of reasons, Levitt’s character must rely on numerous things to survive. His condition makes this difficult, yet also creates the way out in an ironic quirk of the plot. As the bank robbery goes awry, first time director Scott Frank amps up the tension, giving the movie a boost it rides until the ending.

The conclusion does seem like an easy out, covering the characters to lead to the Hollywood ending. Not only is it explained in one line of dialogue, it goes by incredibly fast and stretches plausibility. Aside from this one mistake, The Lookout is a fantastically crafted drama that deserves an audience.

Especially sharp, the Blu-ray presentation of Lookout is a gorgeous one. There’s fantastic detail in close-ups, and the deep black levels create excellent contrast. The film is shot mostly with a blue color filter over it, and this transfer captures the tone flawlessly. Some excessive background noise in certain shots is a distraction, and the only knock against this HD effort.

An uncompressed audio track is one of those that will surprise you. A flashback to a hockey game is an immersive, detailed audio moment. The skaters whip through the sound field, and a check against the boards delivers a loud, deep shot of bass. Likewise, the gunfight late in the movie truly delivers on all counts with shattering glass finding a home in all speakers. Subtle touches, such as cars leaving and their engine sounds moving into the proper speaker, are nicely handled.

A commentary with Scott Frank and his director of photography, Alar Kivilo, explains much of the narrative from their perspective. Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt is an examination of Levitt’s character, though it doesn’t offer much the audience didn’t already know. Sequencing the Lookout is a nicely produced making of spending a few minutes of various aspects of the production. Disney’s usual movie showcase takes you directly to the scenes that show off the best HD video and audio.

Jeff Daniels took his role seriously. He spent time in Michigan at a training center for the blind to learn how to properly act on screen. It was time well spent, as the performance on screen is completely believable.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for His current passion project is the technically minded You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.