starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher
written and directed by Scott Frank
by Walter Chaw Perfectly workmanlike in execution, Scott Frank's hyphenate debut The Lookout is a mash of admirable capers (A Simple Plan, Memento, and Fargo are high in its pantheon of giants' shoulders), but it lacks suture in its crime arc, making one wish that its small character moments--highlighted by a superlative cast--were allowed to anchor its climax and epilogue. As Chris Pratt, a brain-damaged youth suffering after an act of high school chutzpah that resulted in the annihilation of his golden life, Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to cement his claim as the best young actor of his generation, delivering a performance revolving around the life and death of the mind that is heartbreaking in its observation and subtlety. I think a lot about a moment near the end of the film where he makes change for an old acquaintance and lament that the twenty minutes or so that precede its conclusion--twenty minutes that drag The Lookout into convention and cheap formula--even happened. Until then, the picture drags some seriously dark shit out from under the psychic bed, such as how being a sports hero in high school can hide the fact that you're maybe an asshole setting yourself up for a fall, and how robbing anyone of virility and self-esteem (not to mention Everybody's All-American) can lead to dangerous explosions involving women and long firearms. Once exposed to this genre's sputtering arc light, however, all that darkness in The Lookout is suddenly at the mercy of a lot of travel-worn underdog revenge bullshit. The tightrope of genre pictures is that the first time I can predict what's going to happen is usually when it loses me for good.