Written by Caballero Oscuro
Joseph Gordon-Levitt became a viable film actor largely as a result of the much-hyped, modern noir Brick, as well as his equally impressive turn in Mysterious Skin, nearly erasing all memory of his past as the 3rd Rock From The Sun kid in the process. With The Lookout, Gordon-Levitt shines again in another noir-tinged, well-crafted production, further cementing his reputation as a talent to watch in the years to come.
Gordon-Levitt stars as Chris Pratt, a washed-up bank janitor suffering from short-term memory problems as a result of a life-changing car accident. He’s similar to the Guy Pearce character in Memento, constantly having to write notes to himself to organize his day and remind himself of what to do. His severe head injuries limit his chances at future professional or romantic success, so he passes his time hanging out with his blind roommate (Jeff Daniels) and plugging away at his dead-end graveyard shift job at the local small-town bank.
Fate seems to deal Chris a rare good hand with his introduction to the seedy but charismatic Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) and his acquaintance, the comely ex-stripper named Luvlee (Isla Fisher). They don’t seem like the most savory of characters, but they extend their friendship (and more, in Luvlee’s case) to the quiet loner, bringing him into their circle of associates. It soon becomes clear that their intentions are far from virtuous, as they target Chris as an easy inside man and patsy for their upcoming bank heist. They eventually convince Chris to assist with their plans, setting up a huge internal conflict for him as his conscience fights to overrule his decision.
Up to this point, the film is a fairly conventional tale of opportunities lost and a shot at redemption, but once the bank robbery begins the film takes a few somewhat surprising and memorable turns. It’s no surprise that the plot device of Chris’s faulty memory comes into play, but the final act should still keep viewers engaged and guessing to the end.
The Lookout is the feature directorial debut by Scott Frank, the screenwriter of other hard-boiled yarns Get Shorty and Out of Sight as well as Minority Report. He proves to be a capable director here, keeping his self-penned plot on track with only minimal diversions to Chris’s flashbacks to his lost glory days. He allows Levitt to play his role in a very subdued manner and without any unnecessary tics, capturing a realistic and winning performance. Jeff Daniels playing blind is somewhat annoying, but Goode and Fisher chip in solid contributions in their limited screen time.
The DVD includes a featurette about Gordon-Levitt’s performance, a brief making-of feature, and audio commentaries by Frank and cinematographer Alar Kivilo. The DVD is now available, check your local retailer for additional information.