A couple of weeks ago, I saw a small gem of a movie in Clarksville called “The Lookout.” I never wrote a review because I knew it would be gone practically as soon as I saw it. I noticed, though, while looking at Friday’s Paducah Sun that it was now playing at the downtown Maiden Alley Cinema. I would suggest checking it out while you can.
“The Lookout” opens with a group of four teenagers after the prom driving down the quiet Kansas highway. The boy driving, Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), turns off the headlights to thrill his girlfriend and the other couple. They look up at the stars and stare across the field at all the fireflies. The girl gets nervous, but Chris teases her by leaving the lights off. When he finally relents, it is too late. There is no time to steer away from the combine in front of them and they slam into it. The couple in the back is killed and the girl loses her leg.
We pick up with the action four years later. Chris is stuck with a serious brain injury that keeps him from being employed at any place that requires him remember important information or think too much. He is working as a custodian at a bank and living with Lewis (Jeff Daniels) a blind man whom he met in a support group. It is about this time that he meets Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), who says he remembers Chris from high school, although he was a few of years older. So does the gorgeous Luvlee (Isla Fisher), who becomes very friendly with Chris awfully quickly.
It isn’t long before Gary asks Chris to help him and some friends out. They need him to be a lookout at his place of employment while they rob it. Will Chris have the nerve to see this through to the end? If he doesn’t, will his damaged brain give him the wits to stay a step ahead of everyone else?
“The Lookout” is the directorial debut of Scott Frank, who previously wrote “Out of Sight.” Frank shows that he is up to the challenge of directing with a film with that is smart, tight and fun to watch. Not that it’s a rollicking good time. I say fun to watch simply because it’s so well crafted.
The movie features several standout performances. Gordon-Levitt (“Third Rock From the Sun”) is really turning into an actor to watch and invests Chris with a numb pain that is always simmering below the surface. That is, until his brain condition causes him to blurt out random, usually vulgar, phrases. Chris is an interesting character because of how the horrible accident has altered what would have otherwise been a very happy life led by a young man who seemingly had it all.
Goode turns Gary into a very compelling character as well. He’s a bit menacing but also very easy to open up to and Chris chooses to trust him. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he has Fisher (“The Wedding Crashers”) by his side.
The film’s secret weapon, though, is Daniels, who plays Lewis with all the sarcastic wit he can muster. Lewis is extremely protective of Chris and doesn’t trust these new friends one bit.
So if you’re looking for good post-teenage brain injury heist movie, “The Lookout” is the only way to go – literally. OK, just check it out if you want to see a good movie.
“The Lookout” is rated R. No one under 17 admitted without an accompanying parent or guardian.