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The Lookout
DVD disk
Aug 21, 2007 By: Quigles
The Lookout order
Director:
Scott Frank

Actors:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Jeff Daniels
Matthew Goode

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After a reckless car accident causes the death of two of his friends, a once popular ice hockey player attempts to cope with the loss, as well as deal with his resulting mental condition. Cue the entrance of a sleazy ladies man, who offers him a chance to regain control of his life. All he has to do is help rob a bank.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Bank heist movies—they've pretty much been milked dry. Meanwhile, here comes THE LOOKOUT to put a whole new spin on things. Instead of focusing on elaborate schemes and over-the-top gunfights, the energy is focused centrally on the film's richly interesting characters. The bank heist is simply the backdrop; an impetus of what eventually plays a vital role in the central character's development. In this way, the movie evolves past the point of being a simple-minded crime drama, alternatively offering up an intimate, perfectly realized study of a troubled young man.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers another stellar performance in his already deeply impressive film resume (BRICK, MYSTERIOUS SKIN). Within a matter of years, he's gone from basically being nothing more than a goofy side character on a TV show ("3rd Rock From The Sun") to one of the most exciting and talented young actors working today. His character in THE LOOKOUT could have easily been unsympathetic, but Gordon-Levitt's harshly conflicted portrayal feels honest and believable. You can't help but feel bad for the guy, despite the accident being his fault.

The character also has a mental condition that forces him to write down everything he does, spurt out inappropriate comments, occasionally forget things that have happened moments prior, etc. This aspect of his character brings another element of interest to the proceedings, but it's much more than some extraneous gimmick. The disability applies heavily to the character's story arc, in addition to making way for the inclusion of Jeff Daniels's character, a blind man that befriends the ex-star athlete. Whereas most movies would make this person a humble and oh-so-wise walking cliché, here he is played as humorous and a bit of a loud mouth. He's still intelligent, and always attempts to help Gordon-Levitt's character to the best of his ability, but nothing about the role feels false. This is part of the main reason why the film succeeds like it does—almost all of the characters are presented realistically. The only person who isn't is Bones, a creepy one-dimensional baddie who wouldn't hesitate to whip out his shotgun and blast everyone in sight. His presence might've been a sore spot if he didn't fit so well with the film's noir look and feel.

Visually, the rural Kansas setting adds to the film's low-key style, occasionally providing sequences along the desolate landscape that are both beautiful and quietely haunting. Writer/director Scott Frank knows not to overplay details like this, opting to simply let the story evolve naturally in its intricate little world. And thanks to the superb writing, this is one world you'll be happy to revisit.
THE EXTRAS
Unsurprisingly, there isn't much in terms of extras. What is here though is of high quality.

Audio Commentary (with writer/director Scott Frank and director of photography Alar Kivilo): A deeply compelling track, especially for those with an interest in screenwriting.

Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt (9:25): An interview and clip-filled affair, the most interesting aspect of which has Joseph Gordon-Levitt discussing his research process of meeting with people that had similar mental conditions to his character.

Sequencing The Lookout (19:58): A worthwhile making-of featurette that delves into the difficulties of the production, as well as casting, location scouting, script edits, etc.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE LOOKOUT brings to mind the memory-conflicted protagonist of MEMENTO, and though it doesn't come close to capturing that movie's genius, the quiet and deeply thoughtful nature of the picture helps it to hold its own just fine. As long as you're watching it for the characters and slick noir style, and not the bank heist, I don't expect you'll be disappointed.
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