johnlink ranks THE LOOKOUT (2007)

THE LOOKOUT served as the directing debut of Scott Frank, writer of such quality films as MINORITY REPORT, OUT OF SIGHT, and MALICE. He is also the writer of the upcoming WOLVERINE film which, hopefully, will not suck as much as the last WOLVERINE film. With Scott Frank on board, it is already in better shape than the last one. THE LOOKOUT is a movie I had seen once before and very much remember liking. So, here we go with movie ranking number 499…


I watched THE LOOKOUT (2007) on 1.6.13. It was my second viewing of the film, the first being back when it was just released on DVD.

THE LOOKOUT stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt looking more like he did in THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN than he did in INCEPTION. He plays a young man, Chris Pratt, with a ton of potential and an equal amount of ego. He gets himself into a horrendous car accident which leaves others dead and himself with a major brain injury. He has trouble with memory and concentration, forcing him to leave himself notes everywhere. He also lacks a filter, and he’ll often blurt out to an attractive woman just what he’d like to do to her. He has rich folks who could care for him, but the guilt and pity leads him to instead live with another accident victim (albeit a different kind of accident) named Lewis (Jeff Daniels).

If this sounds like a college-aged version of MEMENTO, it certainly is not. Chris is just trying to get by in the world. He works as a janitor overnight at a bank. His major aspiration is to be a teller, but his inability to focus makes him unsuited for the job. Because  he holds himself responsible, the conflict is much more internal than external.

That is, until he meets Gary (Matthew Goode). Gary sees Chris as opportunity. Chris is inside a bank that Gary would like to rob, and Gary knows he can play Chris because of his mental disability. The first act twist happens when Gary reveals the plan to rob Chris’ bank and that they’d like Chris to be the lookout.

This movie is well written with solid characters. Perhaps the only weak spot is Luvlee (Isla Fisher), a stripper with a heart of gold. Her attachment to Chris is unfortunately cliché, though the script eventually shifts away from the cliché for the finish of her character arc. Fisher gives a good performance, but the character is very transparent. That Chris sees through Gary when the plan is revealed, but doesn’t see through Luvlee is either a flaw of the script or a flaw of the character, depending on how you choose to look at it. I tend to think it is a flaw of the character.

This is a small film, set in the suburbs of Kansas City. The bank is small, the cinematography is relatively tight, the apartment is small, the good characters want small things. The only things which stand out as large are the road Chris had his accident on (often shot from far away) and the aspirations of the film’s criminals. Chris has already been the victim of one, and the film’s climax concerns his ability to avoid becoming the victim of the other.

There is an odd daydream sequence towards the end of this film when Chris imagines a conversation with one of the victims of his crash. It begs the question of whether he ever sees her at all throughout the film, or whether she has always been a figment of his imagination. He sees her at the same time every day in the same place, but she is not on his notebook schedule. I tend to think that she is real and only the conversation is imaginary. But the film doesn’t definitively answer this. The conversation happens at an odd time, serving as a sort of exposition late in the film’s third act. The cut in action is jarring, but effective. The story, at that juncture, is just as unfocused as Chris’ mind.

Solid suspense even if it is not grandiose, this is a film more about its flawed characters than its plot. With great performances by Goode, Gordon-Levitt, and Daniels, this is a small movie worth seeking out.





~ by johnlink00 on January 7, 2013.

3 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE LOOKOUT (2007)”

  1. Wow, I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds great.

    Without giving anything away, can you clarify what you meant by him being able to see past Gary but not Luvlee? I thought she was a stripper with a heart of gold? I’m totally fine with Isla Fisher as a stripper, by the way.

    • This is certainly worth seeing!

      I don’t think it gives anything away, because the movie makes it pretty clear that Gary is using Luvlee to get Chris to do what he wants. When Chris realizes he is being used by Gary, he either doesn’t make the connection that Luvlee is in on it too, or he chooses not to make the connection. Chris is striving for normalcy, and Luvlee is the closest thing to that. He stays with her even if she clearly has ulterior motives.

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