Review: THE LOOKOUT (2007) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: THE LOOKOUT (2007)

Scott Frank's directorial debut on THE LOOKOUT is an engrossing character study, but doesn't quite hold up as a solid crime thriller.


Best known for his 1998 Oscar-nominated screenplay in Steven Soderbergh's crime thriller OUT OF SIGHT, celebrated screenwriter Scott Frank was also notable for penning some of Hollywood's high-profile blockbusters including 1995's GET SHORTY and 2002's MINORITY REPORT. THE LOOKOUT marks his first foray into directing (as well as doing double duty in screenwriting) and the result is a well-acted, if flawed crime drama featuring great performances from mostly young actors.

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Four years ago, Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a popular high-school ice hockey player who has a beautiful girlfriend named Kelly (Laura Vandervoort). But one fateful night changes his life forever when he involves in a horrible car accident that left him forever crippled with permanent mental impairment. Now, he is struggling to cope with his daily life as he often feels disoriented and suffers from short-term memory. To help refresh his memories everyday, he has to rely on his trusty notebook where he jots down all the important names and thoughts. He shares an apartment with his best friend Lewis (Jeff Daniels), a blind telemarketer whom he met in rehabilitation class and makes a small living by working as a night janitor at a small bank. Chris's life is pretty much mundane and pathetic, until he meets his former classmate Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) in a bar. Gary even introduces him to a sexy ex-stripper named Luvlee (Isla Fisher) and the two of them immediately fall for each other. However, Gary's so-called "friendship" with Chris actually has a hidden motive because he needs Chris to become their inside man so they can organize a trouble-free bank heist with fellow cohorts Bone (Greg Dunham), Marty (Morgan Kelly) and Cork (Aaron Berg).

THE GOOD STUFF
 
As a first-time director, Scott Frank displays plenty of nuances when comes to establish character study. And for that alone, he succeeds admirably by allowing his cast to shine.

Long before former child actor of TV's 3rd Rock From The Sun-turned-feature thespian Joseph Gordon-Levitt hits big time playing in large-scale Hollywood productions like G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA (2009), INCEPTION (2010) and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012), he already proves his worth here with his compelling performance as a mentally-challenged Chris. His co-star, Jeff Daniels gives a strong support as Lewis and there's one particular brilliant acting moment in a scene where he manages to uncover Luvlee's true motive for hanging out with his friend, Chris. Speaking of Luvlee, Isla Fisher is delightful as an ex-stripper with a heart of gold. As the movie's major villain, Matthew Goode is both charismatic and wicked enough as Gary Spargo while Greg Dunham surprises me a lot with his frightening portrayal as Gary's right-hand man, Bone who hardly spoken a word. Other minor supporting players manage to shine as well, albeit their limited screen times, and that includes Carla Gugino as Chris' case worker Janet, Sergio Di Zio as Deputy Ted who always bring a box of donuts to Chris, and Bruce McGill as Chris' tough but caring father.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
The gripping heist sequence that leads to a tense shootout between the robbers and a cop.

THE BAD STUFF
  
While there's no denying that Frank excels in developing his characters, the crime-thriller element that supposed to be a major plot point looks too restrained for its own good. Although the payoff (as in the heist sequence) does have its moment, Frank made a false move for lifting his foot off the pedal whereas he should be keeping the pace consistent in a taut and engaging manner. Instead the subsequent ending that sees Chris finally come face-to-face with his enemies feels both underwhelming and anticlimactic.

FINAL WORDS

Although the characters-driven drama and the crime-thriller element doesn't exactly gel well together, Scott Frank's directorial debut remains an interesting watch.

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