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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Damn this was a good movie. Great intro and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is utterly believable in his role. This may be his niche, playing the outsider who finds the solution to a complicated situation (a la Brick). 3/4s of this movie was bordering the 9/10 range. The ending cost this Scott Frank effort a truly elite score. If you watch it you'll see what I mean.. Kinda clichéd idea of the underdog leveraging something against his enemies and coming out on top. But not too clichéd so it along with a few other things caused The Lookout to fall a point in my book to an 8. The other problems I had concerned the three most important non-familial women in his life: The psychiatrist, Janet (played by Carla Gugino), has a great rapport with Chris (Gordon-Levitt) and I would have liked to see her interactions with him as his character progressed (She is seen only once). Isla Fisher plays Gordon-Levitt's seductress and could have used a real closure scene to define their relationship as it is, she runs off in a taxi and then is consoled in a wordless scene by the main antagonist. Which is okay but I guess I expected more from her. Lastly, Kelly -the girl's whose life Chris changes for ever- is seen sparingly and mostly as an object of his past. I was hoping for some dynamic interaction between them -at least he dreams one anyway. Alright enough nitpicking, this is a great movie. Much better than most major box office releases and you'll be glad you picked it up if you do. When I see a movie I like, like this one, I hold it to a higher standard and am more critical of minor defects. So rent it or buy it and be glad you're watching something worthwhile.
Scott Frank's "The Lookout" is no less gimmicky than Christopher Nolan's "Memento," but has a heart and soul that's undeniable. And while it has every opportunity to be a sentimental, heavy-handed production, it ultimately plays straight with the audience. In the world of independent film, if a movie can captivate the viewer without drawing attention to its own hipness/uniqueness, it has made it 3/4 of the way out of the woods. And "The Lookout"--while taking light cues from Tarantino and the Coen Brothers--is a film that's most interesting (and entertaining) as a character study of damaged lives. On prom night, local hockey star Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sees his life change in a split second; several years later, he is living with a head injury that's knocked out his short-term memory (he jots down pertinent details on a notepad) and spends his nights cleaning up a lonely Kansas bank; he rooms with the blind Lewis (an excellent Jeff Daniels), who aspires to open a restaurant with Chris; and is accosted by Gary (Matthew Goode), an ingratiating asthmatic who coaxes Chris into helping rob the bank. Frank's script shies away from crime-movie clichés and revolves more around Chris' own fall from grace and his depleted function--Levitt's not-quite-earthbound performance slyly draws us in while keeping us locked out of what is really going on in his head; and Daniels is quite his equal, a blind man who "sees" more than others give him credit for. "The Lookout" is one of 2007's best sleepers, a film that mines excitement and anticipation from character machinations instead of flat-out action.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Get Shorty' & 'Out of Sight' scribe Scott Frank's directorial debut
(which he also penned) starts out promisingly with a former high school
ice-hockey star, Chris Pratt (Joseph Gorden Levitt), trying to adjust
to life after being left mentally retarded by a car crash he caused
four years earlier. He's fit only for a menial job as night cleaner in
a local bank and fills the rest of his time daydreaming about running a
sandwich bar with blind flatmate Lewis (the ever reliable Jeff
Levitt copes very well conveying the tics & traits of someone who's suffered a serious head trauma, instilling a mixture of sympathy and embarrassment as he repeatedly struggles with etiquette & articulation during social interaction. Unfortunately, it isn't too long before the wheels start to wobble and we take a sharp, wrong turn into predictable street.
Alarm bells first start to ring when he crosses paths with school friend Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), who's initial generosity and chumminess are really an insidious smokescreen to lure Pratt into assisting him in a bank robbery. Not just any bank robbery mind: Spargo and his evil henchmen need him to rob (and you might be ahead of me here) THE BANK AT WHICH HE IS EMPLOYED!
From here on in, everything you think will happen, happens exactly when you thought it would and exactly as you anticipated. Every box is ticked and every bean is counted as it races frustratingly towards the finishing line of happy-ever-after heaven, leaving no cliché unturned on the way.
I really thought 'The Lookout' might go somewhere unexpected and make a few moves I didn't see coming, as during the first forty minutes all the right noises were being made for a character-driven drama that looked difficult to second guess. But it quickly loses altitude and switches to autopilot for a safe, formulaic landing instead.
It must be said that Frank does display some talent in the director's chair and juggles the visuals and performances of his cast very nicely indicating, that in time, he might be a force to be reckoned with. Its ironic then that, after knocking up such an impressive CV as one of the best screenwriter's around, he scuppers his first go behind the camera by placing all his bets on such a second-rate script. Disappointing.
Lookout for the coolest flick of 2007! That would be Writer-Director Scott Frank's "The Lookout". Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Chris Pratt, a former high school all-star hockey player who caused a fatal crash that killed two of his friends, crippled his girlfriend, and left him with short-term memory impairments. "The Lookout" eyes Chris four years after the accident. He is a night janitor in a bank who rooms with a blind man and must constantly write down his daily tasks in a petite pad so he does not forget his responsibilities; it is a very similar pad to the one that my wife gave me but the sad fact is that I do not have Chris' impairment. So let's talk about "Memento" MMM! Maybe, I do have it! Ouch! Anyway, Chris befriends a shady but suave character in Gary Spargo. Chris starts to confide in Gary so much that eventually Gary convinces Chris to be a "Lookout" in a bank robbery that Gary's crew plan to pull off at the bank that Chris works at. Chris also is seduced by a free-spirit beauty named Luvlee. Yes, you heard right! Chris loves her so much that he takes her to Karaoke and starts singing to her "Isn't She Luvlee?" OK, so that was not in the script but it would of have been lovely. Luvlee turns out to be a pawn in Gary's brinks job master plan to convince Chris to be on the "lookout". The ensemble acting of "The Lookout" is worth looking out for. Gordon-Levitt, formerly of the TV series "3rd Rock From The Sun, rocked as the contrived Chris. I was not blinded by the wonderfully whimsical performance of Jeff Daniels as Chris' blind roommate Lewis; "eye" wonder why Daniels was not nominated as Best Supporting Actor. Mathew Goode was, well, definitely good as the manipulating Gary. And Isla Fisher is la right actress to portray the stupendously voluptuous Luvlee. However, to be frank with you the real hero of "The Lookout" was Scott Frank! His orchestrated vision of "The Lookout" should have been looked at more vigilantly by the Academy because it was worthy of Oscar nominations. "The Lookout" is one that you should lookout to move to the top of your Netflix query list! ***** Excellent
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A very good character study with a fantastic performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as always. It's a bit clichéd and some of the scenes are so cheesy or bland that it's unbearable, but this can easily be looked past in my case. I found the majority of the film very engaging and easy to watch. The story is interesting and puts a unique spin on a pretty dried up base plot, though I don't think the film really explains his disability well enough. I mean, he can't sequence events but can remember exactly what's happening with the bank situation for a couple of weeks? Huh? It lost me a couple of times in that sense, but it never got too bizarre or unexplained for me. The ending seemed extremely unrealistic and I despised the fact that everyone just let him off the hook whenever he did something bad simply because of his disability. Seriously, that cop just let him drive away? With that card in his pocket, he shouldn't have been allowed behind the wheel of a car. Don't get me wrong, I always tend to focus on what I dislike about films. It was extremely fun, entertaining and a real joy to watch. The performance all around were simply magnificent. Levitt, Daniels, Matthew Goode and Isla Fisher (who just randomly leaves with thirty minutes left in the film with no explanation) were all marvelous.
This movie takes its time becoming a "thriller" and is instead, for the
most part, a drama that depicts in a unique way how a person (who's had
a devastating thing happen in his/her life) learns how to "start over"
in life. Chris, the main character (actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt in an
excellent performance), must learn how to cope with life from a new
perspective after experiencing severe head/brain trauma; where as once
he was an able bodied functioning person, he is now considered disabled
to some extent. Given this premise, the film then mixes in some people
of ill repute who entice Chris into a criminal scheme. Up to this point
since his injury Chris appears to have been fortunate to have been
surrounded by decent and caring people, and now he is faced with making
some strange choices. Once this aspect of the film gets going things
become more suspenseful.
In my opinion, one of the film's basic strengths is its dialogue and this aspect helps to make the characters seem believable. Actor Jeff Daniels was also especially good combining vulnerability with wisdom in his performance as a blind man.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The opening scenes were hard for me to watch. Four nice young teenagers
are out cruising at night, and the driver, Chris Pratt, wants to show
his girlfriend how glorious the fireflies are. So he is speeding along
the dark country road with no headlights, more often looking at his
friends than at the road. We, the audience, know what is about to
happen and all we can do is watch.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt of TV's 'Third Rock' is good as Chris Pratt, the driver of that car. He doesn't remember much of that night, and the story picks him up 4 years later, struggling to live a somewhat normal life. He has trouble "sequencing", remembering the steps, so he has a notebook, "wake up, get dressed, eat, go to work...". He works in a bank as a janitor, and shares an apartment with a blind man Lewis (Jeff Daniels in a superb role).
The story is about a group of crooks who want to take advantage of Chris' disability and have him cooperate in robbing the bank.
An overall fine movie.
SPOILERS. That night when Chris turned on his headlights finally, with his friends pleading, he sees a large farm combine in the road and he has no time to stop. The wreck messes him up, his girlfriend lost a leg, and the other two died. Because he was so severely injured, Chris was not prosecuted. The crooks succeed at getting into the bank for the robbery, but Chris feels guilty and ends up helping defeat them. Lewis had told him, "Start at the end. If you know what the end will be, then it is easy to sequence backwards from there." So, "the end" was to kill the mean man with the shotgun. So Chris hid the money with a shotgun in the bag. When he eventually took the crooks to the site where the money was, he pointed the bag of money at the man and without even opening the bag aimed and pulled the trigger.
As many other people in the movies' industry,screenwriter Scott Frank is famous in what he does for not being bad or mediocre.It does not mean his work is extraordinary(with the exception of Out of Sight,based on a book)but,for the moment,most of his work has been solid but not too memorable.In his original screenplays(like Little Man Tate or Dead Again)or in the various adaptations he has done(like Flight of the Phoenix or Heaven's Prisoners),his screenplays balance intelligence with the most popular elements from commercial movies.But,I think that in The Lookout(which also is his amazing first movie as a director),Frank made the best screenplay of his career.The Lookout is an intelligent and amazing movie.Frank constructed the screenplay in a slow but never boring way,and the screenplay also has an excellent development of the characters.So,at the end of the movie,we care about their destinies.Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes an extraordinary work as an actor.He makes a so natural performance that he does not seem to be acting.The only fail I found on this movie is that the ending is a little bit predictable.But there's still a lot of great elements on this movie.The Lookout is an excellent film with an extraordinary main performance.Frank shows a lot of potential as a director.The Lookout is a great movie.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt specializes in playing "damaged" characters. In
the magnificent "Mysterious Skin," he portrayed a young man struggling
to come to terms with the sexual abuse he experienced as a child. In
"The Lookout," he plays a man coping with the mental impairment he
suffered as the result of a car accident in high school (an accident
for which he was largely responsible and which claimed the lives of two
of the other people in the car and seriously injured a third). Chris
Pratt spends most of his days just trying to keep the simplest facts of
life straight in his head. Daily activities and chores that the rest of
us take for granted become monumental tasks for Chris. Once a
promising, star hockey player in high school, Chris now works the
nightshift as a janitor in a Kansas City bank and lives with the blind
buddy (Jeff Daniels) he met while undergoing physical therapy.
One fateful night, Chris is approached by Gary Spargo, a criminal lowlife who befriends Chris in order to rope him into acting as "lookout" while he and his cronies rob the bank where he works. Thus, Chris is forced to make a serious moral choice, despite the fact that the world itself doesn't make all that much sense to him anymore.
Written and directed by Scott Frank, "The Lookout" starts off with a fascinating premise to which it remains faithful to the end. Given the raw material, the film could easily have become melodramatic, sentimental or preachy in its approach. Instead, the movie gathers the strands of its narrative with precision and care, letting us get to know Chris in the context of his family, his friends and the routines of his daily life before moving on with the story itself. Gordon-Levitt's winsome face is like a beacon drawing us into the soul of the character, making us empathize with his plight without ever asking us to feel sorry for or pity him (it's hard to believe he once played the nerdy neighbor in "Roseanne."). Like so many of us, Chris is an individual who acts foolishly and recklessly in his youth, but, unlike most of us, who can laughingly brush off such actions as mere "youthful indiscretions," Chris is forced to live with the consequences of those actions for the rest of his life. For beyond his own impairment, he also has to struggle with the guilt of knowing he caused the deaths and/or injuries of three innocent people, one of them his best friend.
In his handling of the relationship between Chris and an attractive former dancer who goes by the name of Luvlee Lemons, Frank shows an ability to write complex characters and a willingness to leave certain plot points unresolved if that makes the tale itself more believable. Like Chris, we can never get a clear fix on the type of person Luvlee truly is. Is she a coldhearted manipulator pretending to be interested in Chris just to hook him into the robbery scheme, or is she genuinely drawn to him despite her ulterior motives? That question is never answered for us or for Chris and, quite frankly, probably shouldn't be.
In addition to Gordon-Levitt, there are first-rate performances by Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode and Isla Fisher. As a novice director, Frank creates a moody, bluesy atmosphere that beautifully complements the story.
"The Lookout" is a movie about inner healing, about forgiving oneself, and about finding the goodness in one's spirit even though the mind and the body may appear hopelessly bruised and broken. There's a light of hope that shines through this movie (as it does also through "Mysterious Skin"), a light to guide all the battered souls who inhabit our world.
Our favorite movie of the year, which says something because this has been a remarkable movie year already. It's hard not to immediately adopt to hero as your hero, and Levitt deftly handles the role. His protagonist is exceptionally well-done, too, a clever seducer who finds someone he was sure would be his easy mark. There's a nice twist involving his other seducer--reprising in her somewhat similar role in a much different movie, the Wedding Crashers. And there's the unusually kind but seemingly inept policeman, easily seduced, as most would be, by the gentle and impaired young man. Jeff Daniels continues to grow (not sure I would have predicted this kind of performance from the same man who walked weak-kneed through Terms of Endearment.) But most of all, this is an excellent story--fresh, surprising and smart--very well told and acted. Not to be missed.
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