An unusual character study combined with a bank-heist premise adds up to a taut psychological thriller.
Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a former Kansas high school hockey star whose life got sidelined when a careless car crash left him with a severe brain injury. He has trouble with his memory, particularly sequencing events (shades of Memento), and making sense of things. Sharing an apartment with a wisecracking blind companion, Lewis (Jeff Daniels), Chris is clearly guilt-ridden and frustrated but somewhat self-sufficient, although he needs to write down in a pocket notebook even the most mundane tasks, like lock door when leaving, as well as daily life lessons.
Since he works as the night janitor in a small-town bank, Chris becomes an obvious and vulnerable target for a ruthless crook, Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), who helps him find a girl-friend, a compliant ex-stripper named Luvee Lemons (Isla Fisher). Cleverly manipulating Chriss shaky self-esteem, Gary convinces him to go along with an ill-fated robbery plan, telling him, Those who have the money have the power. Its obvious that Chriss mental disability is the pivotal factor and that augments the sinister suspense.
Screenwriter Scott Frank, who adapted Elmore Leonards Get Shorty and Out of Sight, makes this an auspicious directing debut. His casting choices are meticulous. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a former child actor, familiar from the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, who, more recently, starred in Brick. And Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale) provides sardonic comic relief. Its too bad that, as the story methodically unfolds, the pace is so slow that, in the middle, one is tempted to become disengaged. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Lookout is an edgy 7, a darkly engaging crime caper