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Scott Frank
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher, Carla Gugino, Bruce McGill, Alberta Watson, Alex Borstein
Writing Credits:
Scott Frank

Whoever has the money has the power.

Acclaimed screenwriter Scott Frank (Minority Report) makes a mind-blowing directorial debut in The Lookout, a gritty, high-tension crime thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels and Isla Fisher. Chris "Slapshot" Pratt (Gordon-Levitt), whose once-bright future has been dimmed by a head injury, is a night janitor at a bank. Lonely and frustrated, Chris falls prey to a con man's seductive promise of romance and a better life, and agrees to help rob the bank where he works. Filled with heart-pounding action, edge-of-your-seat suspense and a twist you'll never see coming, The Lookout will grip you and never let go ... It's "a masterpiece" (Richard Roeper, "Ebert & Roeper").

Box Office:
$16 million.
Opening Weekend
$2.017 million on 955 screens.
Domestic Gross
$4.587 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 8/14/2007

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Scott Frank and Director of Photography Alar Kivilo
• “Sequencing The Lookout” Featurette
• “Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt” Featurette
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Lookout (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 5, 2007)

In 2007’s The Lookout, we get a thriller a stronger than usual character emphasis. The film introduces us to Chris “Slapshot” Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young man whose once-promising life took a nasty detour when he drove recklessly and crashed his car on prom night. Not only did this event kill two of his friends but also it left Chris with a debilitating head injury. Chris suffers from weak memory skills and gets confused very easily.

This means Chris can’t get a job more complicated than janitorial work at a local bank. His blind roommate Lewis (Jeff Daniels) helps shield Chris from his weaknesses, but he remains essentially estranged from his family and maintains few other supports.

At a bar after work, Chris meets Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), a minor high school acquaintance. Chris clearly sees Gary as something of a role model, especially when Spargo helps Pratt meet sexy “Luvlee Lemons” (Isla Fisher). The pair quickly become romantic and Chris finds himself attached to Chris and his pals.

This gives Chris the surrogate family he clearly craves, though the relationship quickly turns dark. Gary tells Chris that they plan to rob a bank, and he wants Chris assist them as lookout. The movie follows his decision and its repercussions.

Although I referred to Lookout as a thriller, that term shouldn’t lead you to attach particular genre expectations to it. The character side of things dominates, as the “thriller” elements pop up only toward the end. Otherwise, the focus remains on Chris and his life.

And that makes Lookout something unusual – and more interesting than most bank robbery flicks. Chris’ cognitive impediments could’ve been played as a simple gimmick and essayed in an awkward, silly manner. Happily, the flick doesn’t resort to those tacky measures. It treats Chris like a real person and integrates his disability in a natural manner. His problems fit with the flick in a believable way that never makes them stand out as forced or wacky.

Despite the unusual nature of Chris’ issues, we manage to identify with him. He represents the vulnerable side of us that craves acceptance and attachment. Yeah, he runs into problems for reasons unknown to most of us, as I expect the majority of the viewers don’t suffer from traumatic brain injuries. However, I also can see how many people put in a similar situation – confronted with a seemingly cool guy and a hot babe – would be just as open to manipulation.

Part of the film’s depth comes from our attempt to discern how Chris’ surrogate family actually feels about him. We assume that they’re just using him and couldn’t care less about his welfare, but the movie opens up enough to make us wonder what else lurks beneath the surface. The movie brings out complexity on a variety of levels, and those elements help create a more involving piece.

There’s not a moment of sensationalism or excessive drama to be found here. The Lookout plays things straight, and its low-key nature makes it more interesting. Yeah, a few clichés pop up along the way – Bone is such a stereotypical henchman it’s almost comical - but these remain minor enough to be forgiven. The majority of the flick feels real and immersive.

Some solid performances add to that. Gordon-Levitt certainly fills out Chris well. We can sense the character’s prior life, but Gordon-Levitt doesn’t telegraph that side of things. Chris is a flawed figure with a hint of old vivacity. His weaknesses come easily to the surface, but not in an obvious, overdone Rain Man manner. Gordon-Levitt delivers a believable turn in a difficult part.

The others work well, too, though Daniels gets the showiest part. I admit that the rowdy blind guy feels a little goofy, but Daniels imbues the role with too much charm and heart for me to complain. The character’s disability becomes almost incidental, which is no mean feat given the way that most movies like to use handicapped folks to tug at various heartstrings.

It’s really the understated nature of The Lookout that makes it enjoyable. Unlike many flicks that involve disabilities or robberies – much less both - it keeps itself subdued. That lack of hyperbole or exaggeration allows it room to breath and turn into an effective character piece.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Lookout appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While no significant flaws popped up here, the transfer seemed a little lackluster.

Sharpness was pretty good. A little softness crept in at times, partially due to a little edge enhancement. However, most of the flick appeared reasonably accurate and concise. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and source flaws remained absent in this clean image.

Don’t expect vivid tones from Lookout. It went with severely subdued colors most of the time and became nearly monochromatic on occasion. Within the film’s visual design, the hues looked fine. Obviously they weren’t impressive, but they were more acceptable given the movie’s scheme. Blacks were fairly dark and deep, but shadows could be a bit murky. Lookout came with a lot of low-light shots, and some of these came across as somewhat impenetrable. Nonetheless, I thought the image remained satisfactory.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Lookout was acceptable but unexceptional. Of course, I didn’t expect a wild mix for this kind of film, so its low-key sound design was fine with me. The soundfield usually stayed with environmental information. Various elements appeared well placed in the setting and blended together smoothly. A few sequences cranked up the action a little better – mainly during the robbery – but most of the piece was subdued. Still, it used the spectrum to decent effect.

I felt audio quality satisfied. Music appeared full and rich, while effects sounded clean and accurate. Some good low-end information came through during the smattering of louder scenes. Speech remained crisp and concise. At no point did this mix excel, but it seemed more than adequate for the material.

In terms of extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Scott Frank and director of photography Alar Kivilo. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They discuss cinematography and shooting digitally, sets and locations, production design, story and editing, cast and performances, and a mix of other technical topics.

That nuts and bolts side of things dominates the chat. This means we get an informative commentary but not a particularly involving one – at least not if you want to know more about the creative side of things. Frank and Kivilo cover the technical issues well and offer many good insights into their work. However, the dry tone of the material makes it a little dense at times. Still, it’s a fine glimpse of various filmmaking techniques.

Two featurettes follow. Sequencing The Lookout runs 19 minutes, 58 seconds, as it mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Frank, producers Walter F. Parkes, Gary Barber, Lawrence Mark and Roger Birnbaum, production designer David Brisban, and actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, and Isla Fisher.

We get some info about the project’s origins and development, casting, characters and performances, visual elements, locations and related complications, some story elements and a few other tidbits.

“Sequencing” provides a pretty tight little piece. At less than 20 minutes, you can’t expect it to provide a stellar examination of the production, but it does much better than most similar pieces. It digs into a number of useful topics in an engaging manner.

Next comes the nine-minute and 25-second Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt. Here we get comments from Frank, Gordon-Levitt, and Daniels. “Mind” focuses on the Chris character and Gordon-Levitt’s performance. We learn about his research and his approach to the role in this involving little piece.

A few ads open the disc. We get promos for Becoming Jane, Eagle Vs. Shark, and The Invisible. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks domain along with clips for Renaissance, The Hoax, Neverwas, and Our Very Own. No trailer for Lookout appears.

The Lookout provides an unusually rich thriller. It only occasionally falters as it focuses on characters and succeeds most of the time. The DVD presents pretty positive picture, audio and extras. All of these form a good release for an interesting movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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