But I’ve gotten my sequencing out of order. I really should start at the beginning, not the end.
The Lookout stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a role equally as challenging and interesting as his characters from Brick or Mysterious Skin. Here he plays Chris Pratt, a talented high school athlete with a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately, in the movie’s opening act, Chris is responsible for a terrible car accident that kills two of his friends and damages Chris’s brain. The rest of the movie picks up four years later, as Chris is learning to cope with his disability and deal with the consequences of a catastrophe he was responsible for.
The damage to Chris’s brain causes him to have problems with complex tasks. He doesn’t read the newspaper because understanding it frustrates him. He mixes up sequencing events. When asked to make a list of things he does in a day, he lists “wake up” three or four times. By day Chris attends life skills classes to help him adapt to normal life. By night he holds a job as a janitor in a bank. It’s the combination of Chris’s high school history, his disability, and his job that makes him the perfect target for a group of bank robbers who decide to get Chris’s help, turning him into the lookout for a job robbing the bank where he works.
Writer Scott Frank (Dead Again, Get Shorty) steps behind the camera for the first time to serve as both author and director of The Lookout. It’s immediately evident that Frank had a clear vision for his story – a vision that is brought to fruition by having him serve as both writer and director, avoiding any potential interference. Frank doesn’t attempt to surround a film around a mental condition like Memento, where Leonard Shelby’s condition defined the character. Instead, Chris’s brain damage serves as a catalyst for the character. He carries the guilt of his accident and faces life with a discontent spirit. He wants more – the life he was originally headed for before his car accident. Because of his condition he can’t have it though, so when he is approached by one of the robbers, who knew him from his high school heroics, he easily falls prey to their plans. If anything, the film centers more around a character wanting to relive his high school fame and appease guilt than one dealing with a mental condition.
Frank’s script gives the actors quite a bit of material to work with, which, as director, he obviously was able to help mold to match his vision. Levitt plays Chris excellently, really bringing out the underlying frustration in the character’s life. His performance is not the only notable part of the movie however. Isla Fisher could have merely shown up and looked hot and been excellent, however her character, who serves as a potential love interest for Chris, has quite a bit of depth to it. Matthew Goode plays Gary, the character who hooks Chris into the heist. Gary is clearly playing Chris from the start, but in such a way that draws the audience in with a desire to see just where things are going to go next. The real scene stealer, however, is Jeff Daniels, who plays Chris’s blind roommate. Daniels takes the challenge of playing a blind character with real skill and provides Chris’s anchor to reality. He’s the one character that accepts Chris as he is – mental condition and all – when even Chris isn’t willing to accept that.
The only character complaint I can hold is with Bone (Greg Dunham), the heavy of the robbers. My complaint isn’t with Dunham’s portrayal of a dark, clearly dangerous figure but with the character himself. In a movie full of complex, deep characters, Bone is extremely one-dimensional. You know from the second you see him that Bone is a hard-ass, and is going to be the “big bad” of the film. The single dimension just doesn’t fit in this film. Thankfully, he’s a minor character, but one small error Frank should have put a bit more polish on.
With deliciously complex characters and an interesting plot that stems from those characters instead of centering around a simple gimmick, The Lookout is a brilliantly told story that is completely worth checking out. Sadly, as a smaller film, you might have to make a little effort to seek it out and give it your time. Do it. In a year full of potential blockbusters, The Lookout rises above to set the high mark of quality for the year.
An admired high school hockey player with a bright future foolishly takes a drive in the night with his girlfriend and two other friends with his headlights off with devastating results. The former athlete is left with a brain injury that prevents him from remembering many things for extended periods of time. To compensate, he keeps notes in a small notebook to aid him in remembering what he is to do. He also lives with a blind friend who aids him. Obviously, with the mental incapacitation, he is unable to have meaningful work. Thus he works as a night cleaning man in a bank. It is there he comes under the scrutiny of a gang planning to rob the bank. The leader befriends him and gets him involved with a young woman who further reels him in. After they get close and after reeling him in with his own failures, the bank plan unfolds. Confused but wanting to escape his current existence, he initially goes along with the scheme. After realizing he is being used, he attempts to stop the ...Written by John Sacksteder
While driving his car with the lights off, high school sports star Chris Pratt crashes into a combine stalled on the road. Two occupants of the car are killed while Chris and his girlfriend Kelly survive. However, the crash leaves Chris with lasting mental impairments, including anterograde amnesia, along with some anger management issues.
Four years later, he's in classes to learn new skills, including the simple sequencing of daily tasks to compensate for his inability to remember, and keeps notes to himself in a small notebook. Challenged by a tough case manager to build a life despite his injuries, he is emotionally supported by his roommate, a blind man named Lewis, but receives only financial support from his wealthy family. Chris works nights, cleaning a small-town bank. Aside from Lewis his only friend is Ted, a seemingly clumsy Sheriff's Deputy who checks in on Chris regularly. Chris repeatedly tries to convince the bank's manager, Mr Tuttle, to allow him to apply for a teller job, to no avail. Chris soon comes under the scrutiny of a gang planning to rob the bank. Their leader, Gary, who knew Chris from high school and resented his wealth and popularity as a hockey star before his accident, befriends him and uses a young woman, Luvlee Lemons, to seduce him. Taunted by the gang about the limitations of his life since the accident, Chris initially goes along with the scheme. His frustrations trickle down into confrontations with his friends, Lewis and Ted.
When the gang arrives the night of the robbery, Chris tells them he has changed his mind. But they tell him it's too late and force him to empty the vault at gunpoint. His friend Ted, the deputy, stumbles into the robbery while delivering doughnuts to Chris, and triggers a shootout. The deputy and two of the gang members, Marty and Cork, are killed. Meanwhile Chris escapes in the getaway car, and when he realizes he's got the money they stole, he returns compulsively to the site of his accident, where he buries the money roadside. Gary is seriously wounded and gets away with the other bank robber, Bone. When Chris returns to his apartment he sees the lights on and realizes something is wrong, and when he calls discovers Gary and Bone have taken Lewis hostage to get the money back. Chris, using his new sequencing skills, hatches a plan to stay alive and save his friend. But the robbers catch him napping at the place they arranged to meet, and they force him to take them to the site of the buried cash.
While Chris digs in the snow to retrieve the money, Gary's condition is rapidly deteriorating. Chris gives one of two bags to Bone, who is preparing to execute Lewis, but Chris uses the shotgun he stashed in the other bag to shoot and kill Bone before he can react. Gary collapses and dies. Chris returns the money and turns himself in, but the investigation by the FBI concludes that he was not responsible due to his medical state - and because the robbers failed to disconnect the video surveillance in the bank, allowing the FBI to see the gang forcing Chris to act at gunpoint.
In the aftermath, Chris and Lewis reconcile, and open a restaurant together with a loan from the bank. Chris hopes Kelly will forgive him for the loss of her leg in the accident, and that one day he will find the courage to talk to her again.