The news these days on Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the talks with director Christopher Nolan with regards to a possible role in The Dark Knight Rises. The actor did a tremendous job as the point man in Nolan's Inception with a set action piece that serves as the unforgettable highlight, and starred in one of my favourite films in 2009 - (500) Days of Summer, that I decided to take a peek back into his filmography, and hence this film.
The Lookout is a debut feature film directing effort by Scott Frank, who is probably better known as the screenwriter for Out of Sight and Get Shorty. And his writing shines here as he creates that rare film that is rich in characterization, and didn't fall into the trap of being indulgent with his scenes or characters, crafting characters whom we care for, pacing the story tight and not put to waste the scenes included. It's a classic tale of a promising someone being cut down to size by a tragedy and having to live with the mistakes made, fused with a heist plot that made it all a very compelling premise.
And who better to play this character of Chris Pratt than Joseph Gordon-Levitt? It called for a lot of emotion and in some ways is a challenge to keep something quite rote, fresh. Playing a man who has to rely on his notebook since his memory and brain got totally whacked from an accident that took the lives of his friends, Gordon-Levitt made Chris a little sympathetic, yet struggling to live with a handicap that he has to jot down things to remember, and having to get past sequencing and forgetfulness issues. It's a brilliant character portrayal of a man whose life got ripped from him, and is stuck in limbo of sorts that he can't really help it.
The story moves up a notch when we learn of his job as a bank janitor at night, forming a friendship with the township's sheriff, and the introduction of Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) who claims to know Chris' sister, and slowly but surely is enticing Chris into his grand plot of robbing a bank from the inside, with help of course through Chris. But to do so means the gaining of trust, and what would always help will be to bring on some lady charms with Luvlee (Isla Fisher). Being slighted in the normal world would push our protagonist into the arms of crime - Matthew Goode in excellent form here as the devil incarnate offering an opportunity of no longer being looked down by others, since the mantra that's so seductive and so real that's shared, involves the saying that whoever has the money has the power.
Scott Frank kept everything deliberate, and puts things together in very intelligent fashion as things all come to a heady crescendo for a climatic end. Rather than to jump right into the more sexier aspects of what would be a bank robbery and then an opportunity for redemption to happen, he spends considerable time crafting the character of Chris Pratt for the audience and dwelling on his mental affliction, that an insurmountable emotional payload gets invested, which worked wonders. Jeff Daniels as the visually challenged Lewis also had a couple of scenes that will move, perhaps being a representation of someone who is at peace with his disability, making the most out of it, and an invisible goal for Chris to ultimately be at, given the struggles that the latter have to undergo now.
With a great soundtrack to boot, The Lookout is a character driven, excellent piece of storytelling that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Don't miss it if you have the chance, or if you're a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, then this is a definite must watch to see him in action and showcasing just why he's such a brilliant actor of his generation.
The Region 1 DVD by Miramax Home Entertainment presents the feature film in an anamorphic widescreen transfer, with audio options available in English or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Subtitles are available in English with close captioning, French and Spanish, and scene selection is available over 15 chapters. The disc autoplays with previews (8:17) featuring Becoming Jane, Eagle vs Shark, The Invisible and an anti-piracy clip.
The Bonus Features include Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt (9:25), which contains limited behind the scenes clips, and interviews with writer-director Scott Frank, co-star Jeff Daniels, but mostly with main lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who talks predominantly about his internalizing of the Chris Pratt character, and his experiences gained during research when he talks to real people who had suffered traumatic head injuries.
Sequencing The Lookout (19:58) is then the actual behind the scenes, making of documentary that talked about how the project came to fruition from financing to casting, consisting of various interviews with cast and crew, set scouting and three scenes which had more details shared in a parting, thanksgiving dinner, and one at a diner between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels.
The Audio Commentary has writer-director Scott Frank being extremely modest with his first feature hiccups, and Director of Photography Alar Kivilo, who put in plenty of information on the technical aspects involved in shooting this film. This even comes subtitled so you can read it off the screen while watching the movie. Rounding up the Bonus Features is the Sneak Peeks section, which consists of trailers that had autoplayed when the disc is popped into the player, and Renaissance (1:19), Neverwas (2:10), The Hoax (2:30) and Our Very Own (2:19)