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During one evening in Kansas City, high school hockey athlete and star
player Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) commits an extremely stupid
act. He drives his car at high speed without using his headlights. Of
course he crashes into a stalled combine on the highway. Where were the
required emergency flashers? Anyway, his action results in the death of
two friends and his girl Kelly (Laura Vandervoort) becoming maimed; he
receives a severe brain injury.
Four years pass, and every day is a struggle for Chris, who is on daily medication. His injury was so serious that he carries a card that reads he is subject to epilepsy seizures, speech difficulties, memory impairness, and visual problems. Also, he has poor balance and cannot use stairs or elevators (although he does use steps at his parents' house without sustaining any repercussions). As he has fewer inhibitions, he blurts out inappropriate comments to his female social worker; thus he is socially awkward. He carries a pen and notepad to remember things. But as he is not completely incapacitated, he is able to operate a motor vehicle (!). But when he does, he often locks his keys inside. How did he get a driver's license? Would he remember the street he is on? Would he remember road signs after he passes them?
Unsupported by his family, Chris has as his only friend blind and sarcastic roommate Lewis (Jeff Daniels), whom he met at the Life Skills Center. As Chris's main impediment is with grasping of a sequence of events, Lewis instructs his roommate to start at the end and work backwards to piece the story together. Lewis and Chris have talked about beginning a sandwich shop business by converting an old gas station.
The only job Chris is able to perform is as a night janitor at the local bank, Noel State Bank and Trust. Chris, by what seems like chance at a local tavern, finally makes new friends, especially Gary Spargo (Mathew Goode). Spargo knows how to manipulate Chris's good graces, specifically by using an ex-stripper named Luvlee Lemons (Isla Fisher) as Chris's sexual need. However, these friends, led by Spargo, are planning a bank robbery at the same bank that employs Chris, and they need someone on the inside. Chris is naïve, and Spargo explains to him in deceptive logic that "Whoever has the money has the power."
The story is so nicely woven and the characters so well-developed that the viewer is engaged until the very end, even though little time is allotted to the heist itself. Gordon-Levitt does well as one who was formerly a local celebrity, but now finds himself frustrated with his own mental shortcomings and the existence into which he has entrapped himself. Daniels as Lewis, with his witticisms and humor, adds to the story. Although blind, he has inordinate insight. One night he point-blankly says to Luvlee as no attractive young woman would want anything to do with Chris "What are you doing here?" He suspects it's not for Chris' welfare. Goode as Spargo is sufficiently ominous and exploitative. His right-hand man, Bone (Greg Dunham), is so frightening and generates so much dread that he has little need to speak. So the atmosphere nicely builds. On the other hand, more than a few will not be sympathetic to Chris. Also, the script leaves plot holes, and several characters disappear before the ending without explanation. By the way, Winnipeg acts as Kansas City. All in all, this drama is carried by the performances and build-up of suspense.
...because sometimes the consequences of one foolish act can ripple
into the rest of your life. The younger you are, the further those
Such it was with Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a high school hockey star with a promising future and probably a full ride at the university of his choice who also has a beautiful girlfriend and beautiful friends. One night while cruising a dark rural Kansas highway with his girl in the front seat and his friends in the back, he turns out his headlights so his girlfriend can see the fireflies. Afterwards as he accelerates the car, his friends in the back seat are freaking out begging him to turn the lights back on. He finally does, and right in front of his car is a parked combine.
The scene switches to four years later. Chris is enumerating his day. He turns off the alarm clock, takes a shower with soap, gets dressed, goes to class (a special program for people with head injuries), etc. Slowly we learn the horrible impact of that night. The two friends were killed. The girlfriend is alive. Chris sees her walking around at a nearby college - she looks fine. What has happened between them? What has happened to her? Is she a ghost or really there? Chris is the sad result of modern medicine, which can put all of the pieces back together again, but they cannot fix a shattered brain. Thus the many walking wounded with moderate to severe head injuries who have the curse of being able to remember who they once were but cannot figure out the mechanisms of opening a can of tomatoes and putting it on the stove. We see this latter situation when Chris' blind roommate, played by Jeff Daniels, leaves Chris a note instructing him to start dinner and how to do so, but Chris can't remember what you open a can of tomatoes with and where would you even look? The refrigerator perhaps? Chris is constantly being patronized. He has a night janitor job at a local bank -he works by a list. Hey, he lives by lists since sequencing is a problem for him. He asks the head of the bank for a job as a teller - he's been practicing with one of the tellers using monopoly money - but he gets turned down like he was five years old. He goes to Thanksgiving dinner at his parents' big estate. Things are weird and cold there as everybody tries to treat him like the old Chris, but he isn't and never will be again.
Honestly, the only two people who treat him like a human being and not an obligation or a case number are his roommate Lewis and a cop who comes by the bank at night with donuts. Both of these people figure heavily into the plot. Chris goes into bars after his shift, tries to start conversations with women, but it just comes out weird, and then Gary Spargo comes up to him one night, talks to him like he is a person, invites him over for dinner where one charming girl who barely knows him lets him go all the way. Chris thinks he is making progress in his life, that he has made new friends. What he doesn't know is that Spargo and his friends are aiming to rob the bank he works in, but they need a man on the inside. In Chris they think they have just met that man.
This is a very gripping thriller and it cleverly weaves suspense and crime into the day to day struggles of a man - Chris - doing time for a crime he never went to jail for, back on that crisp night when he decided to be foolish for just a minute or two. Highly recommended.
Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a high school hockey star. He
takes Kelly (Laura Vandervoort) and a couple of friends on a drive. He
turns off the lights to see fireflies and gets into a wreck. Four years
later, he struggles with mental difficulties. His blind roommate Lewis
(Jeff Daniels) wants to open a sandwich shop with him. His father
Robert Pratt (Bruce McGill) keeps him under his financial control. He
works as the overnight janitor at a small town bank. He is befriended
by Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) and Luvlee (Isla Fisher) who recruits
him into robbing the bank.
Writer Scott Frank takes his first stab at directing with this intriguing character thriller. The action thrills need a bit more directing skills. What excels in this is JGL's performance and his character's struggles. It's a great character in a compelling story. Jeff Daniels is also great as usual.
'The Lookout' begins tepidly & you almost give out your rating in a bad
taste, but the film surprises you in its arresting second-hour, that
also ends with power. The narrative isn't foolproof, but when the film
does come to its best, it scores!
'The Lookout' Synopsis: Chris is a once promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following a tragic accident. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank, where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist.
'The Lookout' could've done better with its first-hour, which is slow & even tepid initially. The characters get established & the story bare moves ahead. The second-hour is complete contrast & the series of events that happen, are truly superb. I was engrossed in the second-hour, how I wish, the first-hour too had worked!
Scott Frank's Screenplay takes time to come to the point, but works wonders when it does. Frank's Direction, on the other-hand, is very realistic. Cinematography is excellent. Editing is sharp, but only in the second-hour. Art & Costume Design are perfect. Action-Sequences are raw, but effective.
Performance-Wise: Jeff Daniels steals 'The Lookout'. Daniels, now a Hollywood Legend, plays a blind man here, with such precision & ease, you can't take your eyes off him. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is super-efficient, enacting the guilty protagonist with true conviction. Matthew Goode is menacing. Isla Fisher is decent, while Carla Gugino is wasted.
On the whole, 'The Lookout' isn't perfect, but its merits too are undeniable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fine job by writer/director Scott Frank. The dialog is better, more
realistic and clever, than might be expected in a movie about a bank
robbery and Frank's direction enhances its value. The fine performances
keep the production in the upper ranks. No stylistic razzle dazzle, no
showing off, no slow motion, no high speed pursuits, no brains blown up
against the ceiling, hardly any profanity, and only one stereotype in
the bunch. Now THAT'S unusual.
I admire the way Frank, and the excellent cinematography, has captured the mood of wintry, small-town Kansas. Poor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an after-hours janitor at the local bank, was brain damaged in a car accident. He may never have been too sophisticated to begin with and the spotty damage hasn't helped any. But make no mistake. He doesn't act oddly. He doesn't twitch, stutter, or turn in circles like Thelonius Monk. He's normal, he's articulate, and he knows what's going on around him. But he's not sophisticated and he has problems with sequencing and memory.
Thus it's easy for a gang of five hoodlums to rope him into acting as a lookout on the night of their planned bank robbery. Gordon-Levitt (who must shorten his name) is alienated from his family. They may invite him over for Thanksgiving dinner but they're uncomfortable when he's around because his hand shakes when he tries to use a fork and because he pipes up without adumbration with dramatic announcements. It's beautifully played by Gordon-Levitt -- a fundamentally decent young man who is next door to stupid and has a few holes in his brain.
But then everyone is quite good and the keen dialog gives them a chance to make the most of their talent. The young girl who seduces Gordon-Levitt is instrumental in sweeping him up into the contrivance might easily have been written an awful bitch, but she's not. She knows what her job is, but not ALL of the plan. She's aghast when she discovers a great big six shooter in the gang leader's baggage.
The leader is Mathew Goode and he holds up his end of the film. He's about the same age as the victim of the plot but far smoother, reassuring, understanding, a nice guy who explains why they intend to rob the banks -- it's not the poor farmers' money; it's the greedy corporate agribusinesses that are stealing from the hard working sons of the soil, etc. I expect that this justification is limited to movie bank robbers, and the real ones just want the moolah.
There is a final confrontation or two that gave the director multiple opportunities to show eyeballs being blown out and all the usual splatter effects. He doesn't do it, blessings be upon him. There is tension and there is blood but only enough to fit the occasion.
So, in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, don't expect bathtubs full of gore and don't expect a showy performance of a retarded or crazy central figure. This is credible stuff.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's a lot more to this low-key heist movie than initially meets the
eye, because as well as delivering the expected action, excitement and
tension, it also features a group of really well-developed characters.
Most notably, the main protagonist is a young man who lives every day
with profound feelings of guilt, sadness and loss and a disability that
makes it a struggle for him to carry out even the simplest of daily
routines. His loneliness and mental limitations cause him a great deal
of anxiety and frustration but more poignantly also make him gullible
and potentially, a perfect patsy.
Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the young man whose life changed dramatically after a car accident which left him brain-damaged. Prior to the accident, he'd been a popular high school hockey star with a bright future but the crash (which was his fault) caused the deaths of two of his friends and left his then girlfriend crippled. Four years later, Chris lives in an apartment which he shares with an older blind man called Lewis (Jeff Daniels) who he was introduced to by the people at the "life skills centre" that he regularly attends to improve his ability to sequence his daily chores. In this connection, he uses a notebook to remind himself of the order in which he needs to carry out each task.
Chris works nights as a janitor at his local bank and apart from Lewis, doesn't have any friends. However, things seem to improve for him one night at a bar when he meets a friendly guy called Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) who says he remembers Chris from school and even went out with his sister a couple of times. Gary introduces Chris to a new group of friends and an ex-stripper called Luvlee Lemons (Isla Fisher) who soon becomes his lover.
Chris doesn't have a great relationship with his family who assist him financially but aren't very supportive in any other ways and similarly, doesn't feel supported by his boss at the bank who clearly thinks that his aspiration to become a teller is totally unrealistic. By contrast, Gary offers to help Chris achieve better in life and tells him that "whoever has the money has the power". So when it becomes clear to Chris that Gary and his associates are a criminal gang who want him to help them to rob the bank, he agrees to go along with their plan. Complications arise, however, on the night of the heist when Chris wants to pull out and the problems that follow are only able to be resolved by some remarkable ingenuity that's made possible by Chris' use of his sequencing skills.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a very realistic and measured portrayal of the difficulties that his character habitually has to endure and subtly provides an insight into the regret he feels about all that he lost as a result of the accident. Matthew Goode is superb as the very persuasive villain who exploits Chris' disabilities for his own ends and Jeff Daniels makes an indelible impression as Chris' friend who does all he can to protect him and also identifies a method by which Chris' sequencing skills can be greatly improved.
Scott Frank's track record as a screenwriter is very impressive and in this movie, he again shows his ability to create interesting characters with even minor ones such as Deputy Ted (Sergio Di Zio) providing extra colour. In this, his first foray into directing, he's also particularly successful in creating tension and maintaining the rather downbeat and melancholic mood that's so perfectly suited to the story he's telling and the nature of the character at the centre of it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has put as much effort as possible. The "fire fly" part is the most romantic scene. It was a great movie though. It thus says that visually challenged are brilliant enough to find out the things that are happening in-front of them. The routine work can be altered in any other way. Then i understand the feelings of the people with memory loss. And it also says that we shouldn't interact with strangers anywhere."Luvlee" is a pretty girl who had intercourse with Chris should have warned about Gary Spargo and his friends. The Deputy is a very good friend of Chris by bringing him donuts very night even in the cold weather. This poor Chris robbed a bank under compulsion and the finishing touch is hiding his dad's gun in the money bag itself for shooting Gary and Bone to save his sightless friend Lewis. Though it's Chris fault for his memory loss after the accident, his dad must take care of him and lend him money when he asked for it and now his dad became the main reason for Chris to rob a bank, but his mother bought him a suit but he is not convinced by that. Then i found that Kelly is alive but in his dreams with prosthetic-leg. I'm happy that Chris is not convicted for the bank robbery and must thank Marty who works in that bank who kept the CCTV on.
Although not so rare, using memory loss as an element provides a script
with a distinctive angle, enabling viewers to ponder on and over more
often than in a consecutive plot. However, sometimes the past and
present are not equally important and interesting, their intertwining
is rather friable, but thanks to customarily good performance by Joseph
Gordon-Levitt as Chris Pratt and peculiarly distinctive performance by
Jeff Daniels as Lewis the events are interesting to follow. In fact,
there is no uniform fight between good and evil, the latter are much
weaker both by performances and character elaboration - the bank gang
is trivial, full of visual and oral clichés. The general solution is
predictable, the very end could have been sophisticated, in line of
British related movies.
Nevertheless, the movie in question is far above average, and if you like personal dramatics combined by criminal heist, then the slightly over 1,5 hours pass in a suspenseful manner.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Lookout", an excellent crime drama by director Scott Frank, stars
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels as a pair of likable handicaps
who share a small apartment. Both become embroiled in a bank caper, but
the film's first hour is less interested in conventional crime movie
thrills than in crafting a restrained and somewhat touching character
study. In this regard, our hero's a young kid whose sense of self-worth
has been shattered by a fatal accident, who suffers severe mental
disabilities and who slowly finds himself seduced by a fork-tongued
At its best, the film is sensitive, well acted and fairly unconventional. Unfortunately its final act degenerates into genre clichés and action movie wish-fulfilment.
8/10 Good, sensitive potboiler, promises more than its final act can deliver. See "Cutter's Way".
This man is without a doubt in the Top 3 of best actors from his generation, and he takes his skills to the next level in this dramatic thriller. This is a movie you gotta be patient with, because the main plot is crafted in a slow pace, in order you get to know first Pratt's current and past life, his feelings and ambitions that led him to do what he did, and his wise blind friend Lewis, played brilliantly by Jeff Daniels. Once the movie gets in it's climax it totally gets your attention and you can feel what Chris feels like if you were him. I think that's one of the best qualities of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the way he makes his characters show every emotion in a such a sincere manner, so you can feel a strong connection with them. Only a few thrillers can really be emotional without recurring to basic clichés, and this one is one of them, because instead of showing tears and guilt it shows you how to overcome your problems and the way others may or not help you do it. For the combination of action and emotion brilliantly performed, this is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, and Levitt sure deserved much more recognition for this part in my opinion. 10/10.
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