Memento mixed with any heist thriller that has ever come out. Honestly, just pick one.
After experiencing a brain injury, and facing a mental disability where he suffers from short-term memory loss, janitor Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) becomes part of a heist at the bank where he works.
Writer/director Scott Frank does something pretty cool here. He takes a heist flick, give it a character-based drama feel to it, and still have some action at the end to boost things up. Maybe it’s not the most unique thing out there, but it still worked for me and you I need more of that in the crime genre.
Frank did a pretty good job taking his first bite at directing and gives this film a very low-budget, “indie” quality to it that showed you don’t need to have all of the money in the world to make a low-key film like this to work. All it takes is enough skill to make a story like this to work and somehow, Frank pulls it off very well because he decides to focus on the characters more, rather than the heist and action itself. We actually get a good feel for some of these characters, and we see them more as human-beings rather than just another bunch of walking-action movie cliches. I’m not saying that every single person here is so unique and all given the same character development as the main ones, but for the ones that Frank does focus on, it works well and has you root for them even when things start to seem really turn shitty for our heroes.
But as much character development Frank puts into this story, he also has a nice build-up for the heist itself and it gets very tense by the end. Even when the film does totally change its ways into to full-on, action-thriller mode, it doesn’t seem fake and seems like this is the right way to go with a story that just continued to build-up, and up, and up until the very last shot (pun intended). Can’t say that it’s most exciting piece of cinema I’ve seen in quite awhile, but it worked well and kept me involved with this story when everything could have easily gone out the door.
However, as good as that heist and final 20 minutes were, the film did bother me with a couple of problems I kept running on in to. First of all, the heist itself seemed way too easy. I don’t want to give anything away as to how these peeps pulled it all off the way they did, but I will say that the way they did was so easy, that almost any person could rob a bank, regardless of the size of the bank itself. It was a plain heist as it was but it also seemed like one that was a bit too easy, even for these characters. Wasn’t the anchor of the flick, but it was still something that bugged me.
Another aspect of this film that bothered me was that things did really get predictable by the end, and it was kind of a disappointment considering this film had me on the edge for a good part of it. After the heist “goes down”, things start to go haywire and every situation becomes just another action-movie cliche that you always expect from these types of movies. There’s even one scene where Chris Pratt is talking about how he used to hunt with his daddy’s shotgun, only to be filmed holding it later on in the film, and it was an obvious, fore-shadowing moment that I got too many of throughout this whole flick. Was I entertained by most of this? Yes. But I think Frank could have done a better job with some of this because this guy did write Out of Sight. I mean,0 come on now!
Actually, what I think really held this film together for me was Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s awesome performance as Chris Pratt (no, not Andy Dwyer, but how awesome would that be?). Pratt is a good character to have in a film like this because the guy obviously had it all at one time, but sadly, lost it all after a traumatic accident ruined his life forever and now he’s trying his damn near hardest to work with it. Maybe it doesn’t sound like the most well-written character ever made in film, but JGL plays him perfectly with just the right amount of sadness, sorrow, and anger in his system that makes you feel like this dude is a good with some mental problems that he can’t really help. This, along with Brick, was a role that showed off JGL’s skills at leading a film all on his own, and it’s so great to see what he’s become today in Hollywood.
Jeff Daniels is here as Lewis, Pratt’s blind room-mate and is just another role that proves how great Daniels is in any role you give him. He’s used as the comic-relief here, but that’s not such a bad thing since Daniels is great at creating well-rounded characters that know how to win you over, just with personalities. Matthew Goode was pretty good, too as Gary Spargo, but thing with him is that you know he’s the bad guy the whole time so there’s no real mystery to him. Isla Fisher is OK as the uber cute, and uber sexy Luvlee, but her role is sort of forgotten about by the end and it’s a shame since this gal could have done a lot more with this role. Like showed some more skin…right?
Consensus: The Lookout may run into some predictable territory by the end, but Scott Frank’s direction keeps this flick fun and entertaining, with plenty of good performances from this cast that makes every character seem even more well-rounded than the last.