THE LOOKOUT written and directed by Scott Frank, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode and Isla Fisher. A Miramax/Alliance Atlantis release. 98 minutes. Opens Friday (March 30). Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
After suffering a traumatic head injury in a car accident, Chris Pratt ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt ) attends classes in how to get his brain working properly, rooms with a blind man ( Jeff Daniels ) and works at night cleaning a bank in his small Kansas town. He's isolated and estranged from his wealthy family and ripe for seduction when Gary ( Matthew Goode ) and Luvlee ( Isla Fisher ) show up offering friendship and sex. All they want is a little help getting into the bank.
That's the premise of The Lookout , award-winning screenwriter Scott Frank 's directorial debut after writing for all the 'Bergs -- Out Of Sight for Soderbergh, Minority Report for Spielberg and Get Shorty for Sonnenberg (yeah, I know, Sonnenfeld).
It has a taut style and some striking performances. You'd never guess that Goode is English or Fisher Australian, and Gordon-Levitt, coming off Brick, is cementing his reputation as the king of post-adolescent noir.
Fisher gives an interesting spin to a part that could have been generic temptress. The diminutive scene- stealer from Wedding Crashers has the disturbing ability to look about 13 years old and simultaneously be credible as someone who's spent a couple of years as a stripper.
Frank isn't the first filmmaker to take the mystery-thriller out of the city. The Ice Harvest used the same frozen landscape to brilliant effect. Removing the familiar urban visual devices gives the filmmaker an automatic push toward rethinking the look of the genre.
I've only a couple of small complaints. One is that the whole set of memory issues starts to remind us too much of Memento, when this film is nothing like that. The other is a weird chronology issue. The bank robbery is timed to happen when the bank has a lot of money in-house to pay off the farmers after the harvest. Why would it be mid-December, explicitly at least two weeks after Thanksgiving? Harvest has been and gone.