The Lookout is another sad causality of an over-crowded box office in 2007. With it’s opening in less than a thousand theaters, the five million worldwide intake is no surprise, although a disappointing one. The film, despite a few flaws, is remarkably put together, incredibly well paced and makes for a great viewing experience overall.
The film follows Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is involved in a horrific car accident. While he and the passenger survived, his friends in the rear seat are killed and Chris is thrown from the car. Suffering severe brain trauma, Chris’s body is unable to function like it once did and Chris is frequently subjected to memory loss and bursts of anger. Eventually recovering enough to get a job as a night janitor at the bank, Chris lives with his roommate, Lewis (Jeff Daniels) and Chris’s life seems to follow a set pattern every day until he is approached by a high school acquaintance that eventually gets Chris to aid him in the bank robbery.
Gordon-Levitt plays the character of Pratt brilliantly. After watching the film I realized that we were never really given a whole lot of back story on Chris, which fit perfectly for the film due to the injury Chris suffered in high school. Granted I don’t think he had full memory loss, it was just the way Chris felt throughout the entire film—constantly writing down what he was doing so he wouldn’t forget—that led the audience to feel as lost and bewildered as he was.
Certainly one of the highlight performances of the film was Jeff Daniel’s as Lewis. Daniel’s was extremely candid on the extras on this set, saying how he was able to play a blind character such as Lewis. When Daniel’s doesn’t have sunglasses on it’s hard to tell as his eyes are sometimes looking in specific areas of the screen, but in the restaurant scene with the sunglasses on, Daniel’s merely closed his eyes. Though he called it “cheating”, his performances with the glasses on seemed to be much stronger. Not to say Daniel’s performances in the rest of the film were horrible by any means, it just seemed he was really fitting into the Lewis character when wearing the glasses more—perhaps how Harrison Ford can feel like Indiana Jones by merely wearing a fedora.
The rest of the cast is perfectly cast as well and while they’re mostly unknowns (aside from Isla Fisher who was in the wildly successful “Wedding Crashers”), they play their parts beautifully. I was dreading the gunfight with Deputy Ted (Sergio Di Zio) as we’d just learned moments prior his wife had had the baby he was talking about for the rest of the film and even with Zio’s short time on screen in the film, he built up a really friendly and great character. Greg Dunham as Bone created an ominous presence on screen and for the man’s first film credit, he did a great job. The whole cast did a superb job In bringing this film together and had any other actors been chosen I don’t think it would’ve been executed so well.
The films flaws are few and the way a few strings are left unresolved (the plot with the girl, Kelly, in the passenger seat of the car Chris drove is left hanging at the end of the film) feel like they should be left as such. One positive aspect I found in the film was how the Deputy was able to handle a gun—too often do you see cops fire and miss completely, but Ted was able to take out a large number of men fairly quickly—not exactly what I expected and I was happy to see the film didn’t leave his character as an incompetent cop. This film could have easily turned into a sappy, happy-ending type affair but it turned out to end as it started—with Chris telling a story.
Overall the film has a nice pace to it and the characters have an adequate amount of development to make you fully appreciate their relationships with one another. With a runtime of an hour and thirty-nine minutes, the film can easily be viewed in one sitting, which is exactly how this enjoyable film should be viewed. Recommended.
No cardboard slip, but the set does come with a paper insert listing the chapter and disc contents (basically mirroring the layout and images of the rear cover). The disc art matches the cover art and the menus are very well done, with music and a small amount of animation/video clips that play.
Video on this release is horribly grainy. There were sequences where I thought it was intentional but it was obvious later in the film that it’s likely a side effect of how the film was shot. In one sequence in Chris’s bedroom at his parents’ house, his sister comes in to say goodbye and the shot with Chris, her and the baby has an incredible amount of grain on top of it and when it cuts to a single, Chris-only shot, the video is crystal clear. It’s jarring and can sometimes mar the enjoyment of the film when dancing pixels start flailing around. On a positive note, the surround sound 5.1 mix sounds great and does a fair job of immersing the viewer in Chris’s world, particularly with the bank robbery sequence.
Special features are light but adequate for a film of this magnitude. “Sequencing The Lookout” is a tiny variant on the usual making-of documentary. This one follows the film’s production and story process in order (a play on the way Chris writes about his day in the film) and a separate featurette, “Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt” follows Gordon-Levitt’s process in developing the character which he lived for nearly a year with. Both extras are great and add some depth to the film and we get to hear from the majority of the cast and crew in both.
The biggest extra on the set, of course, is the commentary with writer/director Scott Frank and the director of photography Alar Kivilo. While it’s a shame we couldn’t hear from some of the actors on the film, Frank and Kivilo provide an adequate commentary, pacing it with a fair bit of behind-the-scenes knowledge and the usual discussion of production troubles they had while shooting the film. Overall a good listen if you enjoyed the film.
Like the film the DVD of The Lookout comes Recommended. It’s doubtful with such a meager box office intake that we’ll ever see a DVD release with more extras and what we get here is just enough for this small film which I hope will find a larger audience on DVD.
The Lookout is now available on DVD.