Combustible Celluloid
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With: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher, Carla Gugino, Bruce McGill, Alberta Watson, Alex Borstein, Sergio Di Zio, David Huband, Laura Vandervoort, Greg Dunham, Morgan Kelly, Aaron Berg, Tinsel Korey, Suzanne Kelly, Brian Roach, Martin Roach, Ofield Williams, Julie Pederson, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Janaya Stephens, Marc Devigne
Written by: Scott Frank
Directed by: Scott Frank
MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence and sexual content
Running Time: 99
Date: 03/09/2007

The Lookout (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Runaway Brain

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As all screenwriters eventually must, the talented Scott Frank makes his directorial debut with the dramatic thriller The Lookout. He has come up with a perfectly entertaining film, a decent diversion, without uncovering anything truly extraordinary, the way more seasoned directors did with his screenplays Out of Sight (1998) and Minority Report (2002). Even more commendable is that he wanders perilously close to making a disease-of-the-week movie and still avoids all the self-righteous trappings of that genre. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Chris Pratt, a former high school hockey star who suffers a terrible car crash. Four years later, he attempts to re-organize his life despite the debilitating after-effects of brain damage. He works as a janitor in a bank, where Ms. Lange (Alex Borstein) tries to help him advance to the level of teller. He lives with the blind Lewis (Jeff Daniels), whose attempts to help Chris sometimes come across as hindrance. One night Chris meets Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), who may or may not have gone to Chris' school, and who has big plans. Apparently, once a year, Kansas banks are full of farm subsidy money, and the time to strike is now. As with Mysterious Skin and Brick, Gordon-Levitt once again turns in a startlingly mature, subdued performance. Likewise Daniels (a performance Oscar voters should salivate over) and Goode, who imbues his villain with appealing human qualities; the hero could conceivably sit down with him for a cup of coffee. Borstein, Sergio Di Zio and Carla Gugino are excellent as well, making the most out of what could have been throwaway characters. Director Frank makes excellent use of his widescreen frame, emphasizing the wide-open spaces of Kansas (really Canada), cold and snow. He even manages one truly breathtaking sequence within the first ten minutes. Some of the film's major plot twists are pretty routine and easy to spot, but it's the presentation that matters here. The Lookout

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