Follow Us on Twitter

The Lookout

The Lookout

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Sequencing The Lookout, making of featurette; Behind the mind of Chris Pratt; Audio Commentary with writer/director Scott Frank and Director of Photography Alar Kivilo.

HEIST movies are a difficult thing to pull off because there have been so many of them that they often feel like they’re stealing from each other.

It’s therefore refreshing to find that writer-director Scott Frank’s The Lookout emerges as a strong entry into the genre that steers clear from a lot of the usual clichés.

By focusing on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s janitor turned lookout, Chris Pratt, it unfolds from a different perspective and feels all the more fresher for it.

Pratt is a once promising teenager now suffering from a leaky memory and an unreliable sense of self following a traumatic car accident years earlier.

When he’s approached by an old school acquaintance, Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), Chris finds his ego boosted and the chance of new romance with a stripper named Luvlee Lemons (Isla Fisher).

His blind flat-mate Lewis (Jeff Daniels) is automatically suspicious but Chris is oblivious to the danger until Gary reveals the real reason why he’s befriended him – to pull off a multi-million dollar heist at the bank where Chris works. All Chris has to do is keep watch…

Just as he did in last year’s Brick Gordon-Levitt delivers a richly layered portrayal of Chris, a former athletics Golden boy whose own arrogance contributed to the accident that shattered his life.

Now suffering from an acute sense of isolation, Pratt is trying to put his life back in order with the help of his flat-mate Lewis, and build enough confidence to find new love.

With the help of some clever direction that enables viewers to see things from Pratt’s perspective, Frank’s film works on a human level that makes the subsequent heist all the more involving.

Goode, too, provides a notable presence as Spargo, whose driven determination to enlist Pratt in the heist stems from his own frustrations with small-town life. It’s an edgy but charismatic performance that continues to build on the good work done by the British actor in otherwise forgettable films like Imagine Me & You and Match Point.

It’s just a shame that the quality of Frank’s screenplay doesn’t extend to Fisher, whose Luvlee Lemons is tragically underwritten, thus depriving the actress of a dramatic role to really sink her teeth in.

The heist itself is suitably tense and inevitably complicated, providing viewers with a couple of well-executed confrontations and an exciting getaway. And there’s a strong sense of style throughout that lends the film a distinct visual quality (especially during the hypnotic opening sequence).

The Lookout is therefore a smart little entry into the genre that hooks from the beginning and pretty much gets away clean.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 1hr 39mins
UK DVD Release: April 14, 2008