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Reviews & Ratings for
The Lookout More at IMDbPro »

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A thriller that goes that extra mile to make you care about what happens in it

Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
14 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Lookout is an intelligent, well made thriller that mixes just a smidgen of Memento into a classic bank heist flick. It's a little top heavy and I'm not sure the moral lesson at the end truly holds up under scrutiny, but it's exciting, not entirely predictable and has some very good actors shining through some underwritten roles.

Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) used to be on top of the world. He was a high school hockey star in Kansas with everything going for him, until a night of recklessness killed two of his friends and left Chris with brain damage. Now his coordination is shot, his self-control is erratic and it's hard for him to remember things like B comes after A and 4 comes after 3. Though his family is wealthy, Chris chooses to share an apartment with Lewis (Jeff Daniels), a blind man matched with him by social services, and work the only job he can now hold down, night janitor at a small town bank.

One night, Chris is in a bar, wanting to ask a woman out but no longer knowing how to do it, when a man strikes up a conversation with him. Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) says he knew Chris' older sister in high school and remembers what a stud Chris used to be. Chris is drawn to Gary's acceptance and validation. He's drawn more strongly to the beautiful redhead (Isla Fisher) in Gary's company. The two of them seem to offer Chris something like his old life back. What they end up offering him is money to be the lookout while Gary and his gang rob the bank where Chris works. Frustrated with his life, Chris agrees but…well, let's just say that things don't work out quite like either Chris or Gary imagines.

I liked this film. It comes up with the really interesting starting point of man consumed by guilt over what he's done to others and anguish over what he's done to himself. It shows us the broken-brain prison he put himself in and then offers him a way out that the audience kind of wants him to take. The story of an ordinary man roped into a criminal conspiracy has been done so many times before. Making Chris Pratt abnormal and making the crime his way back to normality gives the tale a new emotional resonance. No matter how many times you've seen this story before, it'll feel different this time.

And while The Lookout isn't exactly a puzzle movie, it does a very nice job of establishing things early in the film that comes together at the end in a way you don't necessarily expect. It rewards you for paying attention without completely telegraphing its intentions.

The cast also uniformly does some very good work here, particularly Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels and Matthew Goode. Gordon-Levitt has a deceptively tough job here, playing a man who knows what he wants his brain and body to do but cannot get them to comply. It'd be easy to over- or underplay this part, but Gordon-Levitt walks right down the line as what is left of a once ordinary person. Jeff Daniels is extremely charismatic as Lewis yet avoids overpowering the more subtle performance his leading man pulls off. Matthew Goode plays Gary like the biblical snake tempting a man who doesn't live in anything like the Garden of Eden. Gary is someone who has genuine regard for Chris but whose malevolent nature exploits that regard to get what it wants. Isla Fisher is also noteworthy for playing a woman that could either be very dumb or very smart and never letting the audience decide which.

What makes the acting here every more impressive is how sketchily drawn are most of the roles. We know an awful lot about Chris Pratt. We assume a lot but know far less about Lewis. We learn virtually nothing about Gary and learn completely nothing about the other members of Gary's gang. The other people in this story are caricatures at best and servants of The Almighty Plot Hammer at worse. Isla Fisher is this film's version of the "hooker with a heart of gold". One of Gary's henchmen has the menacing appearance of Peter Fonda from Easy Rider after he's been dunked in a vat of ink, but appearance is all he is.

Another problem with The Lookout is that it spends an unusual amount of time on Chris' life and doesn't get to the heist until very late in the movie. For the first hour of the film, we get stuff about Chris and his father, Chris and Lewis, Chris and a girl from his past, Chris and the people at the bank, Chris at special ed classes and the challenges and torments of Chris' day-to-day existence. Then it gets to the heist and doesn't spend an equivalent amount of time on that or Chris' relationship with the other criminals. That part of the story goes by much quicker and has a more mechanical feel. Writer/director Scott Frank needed to expand the heist part of script, which might have slackened the pace and bloated the story, but there's certainly things that could have been cut. The whole subplot about Chris and the girl from his past is too opaque and as lovely and talented as Carla Gugino is, there's no reason for her to be in this motion picture. She shows up for one scene as Chris' social worker, helps frame his condition for the audience, then is never seen or heard from again.

Its flaws don't prevent The Lookout from being entertaining. This is a movie you should see.

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a very pleasant surprise

Author: hendersonhall from United States
31 December 2010

Every now and then I check out a DVD of a movie, usually an indie, I never heard of but which for one reason or other sounds as if it's worth a look. More often than not, I discover there's a good reason I never heard of it. The Lookout turned out to have been one of the happier discoveries. Why wasn't it distributed more or marketed more? My guess is that it's a difficult film to market. The story, which others here have told and which I'll not repeat, sounds predictable (much of it is, but there are enough differences, based on character, that make it not predictable and very appealing); and the only actor I've heard of is Jeff Daniels (who's excellent, as usual) and he's in a supporting role, not the lead. Other actors, who are young, are excellent and give credibility to their roles, but how do you convince audiences to see non-name stars or featured players? (Their names may be familiar to TV viewers and to readers of this appraisal, but as I rarely watch any TV shows that have commercial interruptions, they're new to me.) I suggest you take a chance. The worst that can happen is that you'll disagree with me and spend a little more than an hour and a half on it. The best is that you'll agree and, like me, wind up buying a DVD of the film.

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Solid Character Drama w/ Heist Elements

Author: pc95 from San Diego
19 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I liked "The Lookout" pretty well. It's story moves and progresses along with good pacing. What it lacks in originality it makes up with pretty good social relationships, and an cast who all-around do a competent job. Jeff Daniels gets to steal the show for the most part, and to that extent, he helps lift most of the scenes he's in. With his help and the fairly serious Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film has a balanced kind of feel to it character-wise. The heist is more-or-less run of the mill; (spoiler) we've seen these types of bank robber stories before done more intricately or bombastically. However, (spoiler) the brain trauma that Levitt's character had throws in an interesting bend to the whole scenario. The heist becomes sort of a backdrop and conflict for the friendship of the main characters, Overall, the movie work well, and is recommended.

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"Look Out For This Movie"

Author: kimi_layercake from India
9 October 2010

"The Lookout" is a heist cum dram movie about Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) whose life turns upside down after a horrific accident. He takes up the job of a janitor at a local bank, where he finds himself caught up in a planned heist.

Cast wise, Perfect or near-perfect. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is truly a revelation in the movie. He delivers the performance of a person not able to remember or order things (ala Mememto) perfectly. His awkward lifestyle, his urge to stay or appear normal, his nightmares of his accident, his reluctance to join the heist, but unable to get out...all these aspects portrayed terrifically. Jeff Daniels playing the role of Chris's blind room partner/guardian, Bruce McGill as Chris's father, Carla Gugino as Chris's guide (brief appearance) etc is too good in their respective role. Special mention of Matthew Goode and Isla Fisher, who did extremely well too.

"The Lookout" is an extremely well-made movie. Kudos to the Director Scott Frank, who didn't compromise quality with lack luster scenes or dialogue. Everything was stitched well together, resulting in a movie that clearly is far better than most of the Thriller movies of nowadays.

Overall, "The Lookout" delivers much more than what would be expected from low-budget less publicized movie. Made with a tight plot, backed by strong lead performances, packed with adequate twist and turns; "The lookout" is surely a movie to lookout for.

My Verdict; 8/10

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Good genre movie.

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
7 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Basically a lot of genre movies got made over the past years and I must say that this is definitely one of the better ones and also works out as one of the more original ones, despite its story.

Once you start thinking about it, the movie its story really doesn't make much sense. I mean, the plan of the bank-robbers is just pretty stupid and needlessly over-complicated, which only makes the risks for them even higher to get caught, or to get double crossed. Why did they even need the help of Pratt, it's not like he could had done much of they forced him. So the whole softening up of him, in order to get him to help out with the heist is just pretty silly and pointless in the first in the first place. Any other person would had gone to the police or FBI straight away once he heard with the gang was up to. It would had surely saved himself a lot of trouble.

But than again, it's not like most other movies have stories that do make sense or are realistic, which is most of the cases just fine. As long as you believe and are taken by the movie its story and characters it doesn't matter that much if the story is being air tight or realistic. And that is the case with this movie. So even though the story is far from a likely one, it won't prevent you from not liking this movie.

It also helps that the story has more subplots in it, rather than just one main plot line. It gives the characters some more depth because of their back-stories, which in return also gives the movie some more layers, which in return makes the movie still an original one to watch as well.

It's a movie with a really pleasant flow, despite of the fact that the movie does has some slower moments in it. It's simply a nice modern done heist-flick by Scott Frank, who made his directorial debut with this movie. He also wrote the script, as well as for plenty of other well known movies. His movies often seem to have a fast style in them. I like him.

It's also a movie with some good acting. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels are the biggest names but the movie also has some more fine supporting actors in it. It was also good to see Jeff Daniels in a good movie again. Too bad that it didn't really jump started his career again. The acting is also really what keeps the movie going and make it and its character still a compelling and involving one.

It's not the greatest movie you'll ever see but it's simply one that is fine and original within its genre, especially when compared to most stuff that came out recent years, within its genre. In that regard this movie feels like a pleasant and very welcome breath of fresh air.


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Crime Drama with a mental defect.

Author: miike7311 from United States
24 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was a good movie with some great acting. When an actor is given the task of portraying a subtle mental defect and makes you believe they have it, they have succeeded. The directing of this film was terrific and the suspense of the storyline drove the film right up to the end. Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns in a superior performance and Jeff Daniels shows his maturity as an actor as a blind mentor. Isla Fisher plays the love interest and makes her role interesting, not just a cut and dry part. The characters have good depth which always makes a movie more interesting. Worth the time and would be worth the money for those that have to pay for it!

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Mysterious, dark and delicate..

Author: traduli from Bulgaria
28 September 2009

First of all i want to say that some of the details of this movie are very reminiscent of Christopher Nolan's "Memento" but at the same time have own unique feel and distinctive look. Scott Frank really had done great job to build a believable story with a good character development and, oh boy, these are characters you will remember. The film starts off really well and grabs you almost until the end (and the end in my opinion is the only weak part of the movie as it is predictable and inappropriate, don't get me wrong it is good but i was expecting more).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance is remarkable as the young Chris Pratt, handsome and talented hockey player, the dream of every girl and a role model for every boy. After an accident Chris have to get use to his rare state that he is in, becoming an outsider that can barely handle his everyday life. The other characters you will meet are his sharp tongued room mate, some chicks and bad guys but believe me you want to see them by yourself you wont regret it!

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The Lookout

Author: CharlesHile
27 August 2009

Joseph-Gordon Levitt plays Chris, young man, who is trying to get back to normal life after a car crash, which caused him a brain injury. He shares his apartment with blind Lewis (Jeff Daniels gives a brilliant performance). Chris is soon pulled into a bank heist plan. The Lookout is well done crime drama, which relies on its characters. Whole cast gives fine performance and dialogue is not clichéd like it usually is in heist films. Writer Scott Frank proves himself to be a good director and I am looking forward for his next projects. To sum up, The Lookout is a compelling indie heist film, with a sad tone and believable characters.

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Very entertaining piece.

Author: kewos from United Kingdom
19 January 2009

"A guy in his middle 20's as a main character? Uummm Is not going to be good" That's what I thought when I started to watch this movie. Well, I was wrong.

The movie keeps simple all along but solid and effective. Actually it gets better and better and you dive more and more into the plots and the circumstances.

I'm sure Joseph Gordon Levitt will be a Hollywood star in 10 years time. Performances are solid. Jeff Daniels in his secondary role (blind Michael Pratt's flatmate) good, Matthew Goode is believable. Is not a big budget movie, at least not done with a blockbuster expectations and besides is better than a lot of them (Ocean's 12 and 13 come's to my mind). But don't get me wrong, the movie is a lot more about Michael Pratts circumstances than planning how to rob the bank. Having to decide between being part of the bank robbery or trying to get a better life without compromise his life more than it is.

Well defined characters, suspense, not new but mixing 2 attractive plot and the result is a satisfactory movie which keeps real. 7/10

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Very Very Good

Author: dbm64202002 from United States
18 April 2008

Well paced, dialog about 90% believable, acting is excellent, really no annoying cringe-inducing moments, so rare in the movies of the past 20 years. I rent a decent amount of movies and almost always feel annoyed at wasting a couple hours after they're done, this one you won't be wasting your time on, very good, a true, honest representation of how things can easily go wrong in a person's life, and a great job by Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a damaged individual trying to put his life back together. Jeff Daniels is enteraining as the blind friend, Isla Fisher is easy on the eyes, and the villains are all human beings as well as evil characters. The ending wraps up a little too neatly, but otherwise a truly excellent little film.

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