In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Every now and again it succumbs a little to its thriller genre tropes and clichés, but for the most part, it’s just solid enough to power through those moments.”
Recently, in my neighbourhood, I saw something that’s all too common these days. A video shop that was closing down. They had a big sign out the front, “4 movies for $10”. I looked in my wallet, saw $30 and decided I wasn’t leaving that shop until I found 12 movies I thought were worth having on my DVD shelf. Some were movies I’d seen before. Some were movies I had a vague idea about and thought would be worth the $2.50 gamble. Some were oddities I’d never even heard of, but they looked interesting enough. So, thank you, Network Video Brunswick West. I never rented anything from you or even had a membership, but I did find some cool, interesting and mysterious things on your almost empty shelves.
“I wake up.”
A few years ago, seemingly like everyone in the world, I got a little obsessed with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. As far as unlikely movie stars go, the kid from Third Rock From the Sun was right at the top of the list. But there he was, stealing movies like Inception from Leonardo DiCaprio and killing it Rian Johnson’s awesome Looper. I think the reason the kid from Third Rock From the Sun was able to become a movie star was because he did it the right way. He worked his way up through small, indie movies. He proved his bonafides the hard way, instead of making crappy teen movies and cookie cutter rom coms. He did it with cool, personal, original, little movies like Brick, like Hesher, and like The Lookout.
A few years ago, a bad car accident left Chris (Gordon-Levitt) in a coma and his friends dead. While he can now technically function in society, his brain trauma means he forgets most things and needs to rely on a notebook full of reminders to get through the day. Something as minor as not being able to find a can opener in his own kitchen can spring a breakdown, while the guilt over the deaths of his friends weighs him down even more than the brain injuries.
Working nights as a cleaner in a bank, Chris has dreams of one day getting a more respectable job as a teller, but the bank manager makes it clear that living that dream is very unlikely. One night in a bar, Chris meets Gary (Matthew Goode), an old friend of a friend who Chris doesn’t remember. But not remembering people is par for the course for Chris these days, so he rolls with Gary’s story. He’s especially happy to roll with Gary’s story once it results in boning down with Luvlee (Isla Fischer). But it’s not long until Gary’s motives become clear, and it’s Chris’ nocturnal access to the bank that he’s after, not Chris’ friendship.
I don’t remember hearing a single thing about The Lookout when it was released in 2007. But that’s not surprising. At the time, it didn’t have a single recognisable name in its cast. When I saw it for the first time three or four years ago, I think it was a result of going to Gordon-Levitt’s IMDB page after thinking he was the best part of Inception. And going in blind was what made me like The Lookout on that initial viewing. I had no idea about the cast, the story or even the genre.
That made me a little hesitant about a re-watch. Would The Lookout still have the same impact, or even anything close to it, if I knew what I was in for? It turns out, The Lookout is still pretty great, even when you know what’s coming. Every now and again it succumbs a little to its thriller genre tropes and clichés, but for the most part, it’s just solid enough to power through those moments. It’s also a reminder about how and why Joseph Gordon-Levitt would become a legit movie star just a few years later.