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The Lookout More at IMDbPro »

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Pretty Good.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
20 May 2016

*** 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.

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Potentially, A Perfect Patsy

Author: seymourblack-1 from United Kingdom
3 June 2015

*** 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.

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simple, short and great movie

Author: Ashwin Saga from chennai
13 October 2014

*** 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.

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Logical and smooth, but too predictable at times

Author: Bene Cumb from Estonia
28 July 2014

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.

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Strong film, let down by weak final act

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
7 March 2013

*** 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 villain.

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".

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What a great actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is.

Author: Ignacio Migueles (ignacio-mig14) from Argentina
1 October 2012

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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Powerful and convicting in its simple goodness.

Author: bobsgrock from United States
1 February 2012

The Lookout is the kind of film that will not make money, and this did not. What it does is provide us with great storytelling, strong performances and a moving portrayal of a man whose life is anything but what he envisioned and now must deal with long-term consequences. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, clearly one of the best actors in the business, goes accent and all into the role of Chris Pratt, a once highly-touted hockey player with an affluent family, a blind roommate and short-term memory loss conflicting with his desire to live normally.

The center plot involves Chris crossing paths with a group of the exact opposite kind of men he has become. Led by the mysteriously violent Matthew Goode, these four plan to rob the bank where Chris works at, leaving him with a serious moral choice: rob the bank for money to improve his life or stay stuck in the same rut.

What separates this film from other modern noirs like it is its wonderful sense of humanity. The opening sequence sets the tone for the film and despite what happens we feel empathy for Chris who after a tragic event in his past hopes to wrong his rights one way or another. Goode gives perhaps the film's best performance as a smart, handsome and completely confident man Chris comes to admire if only to pick up women. The supporting roles also add rather than subtract from the story thanks to the likability of Jeff Daniels and Isla Fisher.

Many have probably not heard of this film and that is a shame. Beautifully written, smartly directed and an ending that avoids the right clichés and overt sentimentality all combine to make this a very entertaining and touching human story.

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Only characters

Author: Armand from Romania
19 January 2012

Nuances of characters, larges, subtle, powerful, full of symbols, poetry and deep senses. That is the virtue of this movie. Exploatation of Gordon - Levitt to discover the basic truth of a character, shadow of a great hockey player for who life is a kind of swamp. The precision of Jeff Daniels to give soul and tenderness of a unforgiven blind informal teacher. The interpretation of Matthew Goode as game of bleak pieces and final victim. The story is old and without sparkle. So, important is teller. Director, actor, public. A common film who creates more than good memories. Few characters and broken limits. Existence as cold river in evening. That is all.

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wonderful pace and so exciting

Author: biggishlou-242-950725 from San Francisco
11 January 2012

Instead of going to bed at 2am I decided to stay up and watch The Lookout on USA, solely because of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Particularly of how he has been in four of the best films I have seen in the last few months. (That would be Brick, Hesher, Inception, and 500 Days of Summer) This is different than all of them, and it is not a heist action thriller as it may sound.

I believe this is mostly about the main character, Chris Pratt (Levitt) and the struggles with his past, present, future, and morality. An instantly likable yet sad character. Those that surround him, weather they be complexly written into the story or not, like him for some reason or the other. That is except for one who we only know of in the end. Levitt plays a fine lead in a cast full of Numerous personalities.

This is a writers film. Obviously, since Scott Frank is primarily a screenwriter. However for his directorial debut, one doesn't think his skills fall short of the two other infamous directors that were semi attached here before. The cinematography fits perfect for this bleak and rather sad story, but don't fret, the excitement is right around the corner of a multi story building(see it, some will get it).

Some have said the story lacks complexity, and sure, the actual synopsis is nothing new. That's not the point. The pacing, the characters, the dialogue, the desolate landscapes and quirky camera angles. That's the point. This is my first written review on IMDb, and I felt compelled to write about The Lookout. That's the point.

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Lookout delivers an action plot with real characters

Author: djderka from United States
4 January 2012

This is a really good movie, with suspense and characters so lifelike I didn't think they were acting.

The main character, Chris Pratt is an high school "everyman" in that almost all high schools have some kids that have been killed or maimed in a car wreck. At my high school, which was large, there was a car full of kids who crashed into a utility pole and one died, the others mangled up. Everyone knew them and it haunted us for a long time.

That is why the one scene where Chris is pulled over the by the cop as he drives down the highway still stunned by the wreck, wrings so true. The cop says he was riding with no lights on (as in the accident) and asks to see his ID. He looks, a beat, "so you're Chris Prentis"

And in a look he conveys the knowledge of that tragedy and says "Go home". A brilliant scene that contains a hell of a lot of emotional baggage. That might have been a great opening shot, then flash back to the crash....just sayin'.

This movies has a great script, superb acting and nice shots. What more could you want, except that as the writer of Out of Sight, and Get Shorty Frank left out some of the more humorous aspects that were frequent in those films. Perhaps this was a more somber approach. But maybe the humor was more of a Leonard deal.

The movie reminded me of A Simple Plan, an excellent movie by Sam Rami which is rich with character ideas, plot and acting.

Go see this movie and be sure and listen to the Director's commentary track.


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