Scott Frank’s script for THE LOOKOUT had been around for a decade or so before he found a way to have it made with him as the director. When I talked to him and co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Matthew Goode on March 14, 2007, he seemed to think it was worth the wait. With both actors matching his enthusiasm for complex characters and the taut, challenging story about a brain-damaged ex-jock (Gordon-Levitt) being played by a seductive sociopath (Goode), the conversation turned from defying audience expectations, to what constitutes normal, to the wonders of location filming during winter in Winnipeg.
THE LOOKOUT is another showcase in the burgeoning career of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of the best actors working today. It may be a low key noir in which he is working, but his performance as Chris Pratt, a brain-damaged former golden boy, is nothing less than riveting. The evolution of his character surpasses the seeming limitations of that condition. He is the patsy in a bank job, going from the quiet desperation of enforced dependence, to the subsumed rage of longing for a liberation that he, and the audience, knows is ultimately unattainable. The film is a tightly plotted, sharply realized mood piece, but it’s Gordon-Levitt’s performance that raises it from very good to great.
THE LOOKOUT is a character study wrapped in the genre of the suspense thriller. It works as both, and with a poignancy that marks it as something very special. The same can be said for its fierce integrity in telling a story on its own terms without caving in to expectations.