Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Lookout (2007)

I first caught The Lookout, a modest, Kansas set Canadian shot crime thriller when it aired on BBC1 late one night about three or four years ago. I wasn't expecting much, so it proved to be an extremely pleasant surprise to find an affecting and original thriller with a difference. I've been wanting to catch it again for sometime and thankfully, BBC1 broadcast again last night/early this morning.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Chris Pratt a once promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following a tragic car smash that leaves him brain damaged. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a the local small town bank where his good nature and desire for normality is taken for granted by a gang of armed robbers who plan an audacious heist.

This was the first film from screenwriter Scott Frank - who developed a flair for Elmore Leonard adaptations, penning both Get Shorty and Out Of Sight - who was compelled to take the directing honours after David Fincher and Sam Mendes passed on his ten year old script. It's a debut that pays off, as Frank ensured he got the casting he wanted and, one expects, the film he wanted. On the surface its a stock vaguely noirish thriller complete with pulpy characters like a genuinely menacing virtually silent heavy called Bone and a tart with a heart former stripper called Luvlee Lemons but in reality its a character study about a young man trying to rebuild his life. 

Gordon-Levitt undertook extensive research to play the role, befriending people with brain damage and reading books such as The Man with a Shattered World: The History of a Brain Wound. He also went without sleep and worked out at the gym before shooting to help him appear disoriented. The ever dependable and likeable Jeff Daniels provides fine support as Chris' friend and roommate, the blind Lewis and the actor spent time at the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center to convince in the role. British actor Matthew Goode sports an impressive and authentic American accent to play the villain, whilst Aussie starlet Isla Fisher is the former stripper assigned to seduce Chris into giving the robbers his help and perhaps proves to be the film's only weak link - has she ever turned in a decent performance? Still at least the script makes clear she is supposed to be 'just a pretty face'.

Mention must be made for Greg Dunham as the silent and terrifying Bone, as cool and menacing a heavy as there has been in movie history. He even inspired this joke from me;

There's no such thing as evolution, just things that Bone decides can and cannot live.

He's an incredibly overlooked badass who deserves a wider cult status.

The Lookout is a modest movie that pays big in terms of satisfaction and enjoyment.

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