Director: Scott Frank
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Matthew Goode, Jeff Daniels
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Every day, Chris Pratt (Gordon-Levitt) wakes up. He takes a shower. He gets dressed. He has breakfast. He goes to class. At the end of the day, he goes to the Noel State Bank and works as a cleaner. Chris has done this every day since the accident. Once a promising high school ice hockey player, he drove a car into a combine harvester and killed three of his friends. Now, he lives a shell of a life. Mentally and emotionally scarred, he can barely use a can opener.
So, when Gary Spargow (Goode) meets him in a bar and takes him under his wing, Chris is only too eager to listen. What he realises eventually, though, is that Gary is grooming him for a heist: they are going to rob the Noel State Bank.
Firmly anchored by a repetitive voice-over, this 2007 thriller is constantly filtered through Chris’ perspective. Following Gordon-Levitt’s breakout turn in 2005’s excellent high school noir, Brick, it’s tempting to label this as a high school Memento. Playing another tortured lead, Gordon-Levitt squints and takes notes just like a young Guy Pearce. But, as this film neatly segues from character study to gun-toting thriller, it carves a path for itself that is far from Nolan’s work. The film’s only inconsistency lies in Chris’ unclear mental state – he can drive a car, but still can’t handle a tin of tomatoes.
Forever striving for a sense of purpose and power, Chris is manipulated by everyone around him. The only exception is his hippy flatmate, Lewis (Jeff Daniels). Injecting a vein of black comedy into the piece, Jeff’s performance is the perfect foil for Matthew Goode’s ever-charming, sinister, street-wise Gary. Combined, they build up to a tense finale that relies as much upon the film’s supporting cast as the overall premise. With a suspenseful set-up and an unreliable narrator, Scott Frank’s directorial debut reveals an eye that matches his hard-boiled screenwriting – it’s perhaps no surprise that he would go on to write Logan. A dark, low-key thriller featuring several talents about to leap to stardom, The Lookout remains one to watch.
The Lookout is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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