DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: THE LOOKOUT

Sunday 1 April 2007


The Lookout (2007) dir. Scott Frank
Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Matthew Goode


What a letdown. After reading critical ravings like or “an immensely satisfying suspense drama.”, or “it strikes me as an instant masterpiece” I’m in shock. Did I miss something? And the last quote came from a certain respected television reviewer from Chicago. I just have to ask, ‘what were you thinking?” “The Lookout” is made-for-dvd material at best.

Overpraised screenwriter Scott Frank gets his first crack at directing with “The Lookout,” a small noir thriller along the lines of “Blood Simple.” The film opens with a tragic car accident involving high school hot shot Chris Pratt. Four years later we see his life has done a complete 180, he bears scars from brain surgery which has rendered him with a skills and memory ailment. It’s not quite Memento-type memory loss, but kind of like a minor case of Alzheimer’s. Pratt has to write down his daily regiment such as showering with soap, locking the door, eating etc. It’s a gimmick/setup that never pays off. It frustrates Pratt because, despite his ailment, his high school heyday/prom king/local sports hero memories are still vivid.

Pratt works in a bank overnight as a janitor (huh?), and so he becomes an obvious target of a group of hoodlums looking to do a score. And for good measure he’s seduced femme-fatale-style beauty Luvlee, played by Mrs. Sacha Baron Cohen, Isla Fisher. After he’s rejected for a loan by his upper-class snobby parents, he decides to do the job. On the job Pratt is ‘the lookout’ – hence the title. They rob the bank, some people are shot and killed and then everything wraps itself way too nicely at the end.

The film is straight as an arrow and without a single twist, turn or bump in the road. Perhaps it’s a character film then - a showcase for the talents of former “Third Rock from the Sun” alum and “Brick” star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Unfortunately his character is as dull and uninteresting as a piece of dried tofu. He’s portrayed as a pathetic has-been who’s struggling to live his life on his own and make something of himself. I know he’s a little slow, that’s his character, but he decides to rob the bank that employs him after a couple minor defeats in his life. Come on! The holes in the film are as big as gunshot wounds. For example, Levitt rips off the bank and takes the money for himself. So his accomplices decide to take his roommate hostage and spend the night at Pratt’s house. I guess the policemen took Sunday off. The characters are laughably 2-dimensional and clichéd. First there’s Pratt’s best friend (Jeff Daniels), a wise-cracking blind man/comic relief, Pratt’s wealthy parents who pity him and treat him like an infant, the typical bumbling small town cop and the most laughable is the muscle of the heist crew – Bone – who looks like a reject from the Matrix auditions (he never takes off his glasses – even in the basement of his house!)

I can’t understand how some critics are calling the film a masterpiece or even enjoyable – perhaps they’ve been numbed by “Norbit” and “Wild Hogs.” I guess compared to them “The Lookout” is “Citizen Kane.” In reality its average pulp material and nowhere near the benchmark set by half a dozen other superior films, “A Simple Plan”, “Blood Simple”, The Last Seduction”, “Red Rock West” and “Bound”. It may be straight-to-video material, but even when it does show up on the shelf rent any one of those films first.


Bailey said...

I stopped reading at "Overpraised screenwriter Scott Frank". Have you seen "Out of Sight", for god's sake? "Dead Again"? "Get Shorty"?

"The Lookout" is a terrific entertainment and one of the year's best films.

Alan Bacchus said...

I acknowledge that "overpraised" is a strong word to use. It's just that 'Out of Sight' and 'Get Shorty' have as much to do with Elmore Leanord as Scott Frank. 'Dead Again' is great, but 16 years old and 'Out of Sight' is overrated.