Before the accident, Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) had a beautiful girlfriend and was his high school’s star hockey player. Four years later, the victim of a serious head injury, he works as a night janitor at a bank and tends to forget things he’s told unless he writes them in his notepad. All he wants is to be who he was. Short of that, he would like to move up to being a bank teller, or to open a restaurant with his roommate Lewis (Jeff Daniels), an older blind man who looks out for him and appears to care about him more than his disappointed parents do.
When Chris befriends Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) at a bar, he doesn’t realize, at first, that he is being recruited help rob the bank he works at. Lured initially by the promise of a return to his former glory and later by violent threats, Chris finds himself, and Lewis, in the middle of a dangerous crime. He must find a way to overcome his mental roadblocks, save Lewis and prove that while he will never again be a hockey hero, he can be a hero of a different kind.
Gordon-Levitt gives a powerful, understated performance as a man struggling with both the difficulties of everyday tasks and the devastating loss of his former self. As Lewis, Daniels brings warmth, humor and wisdom to the film. Although the construct of Chris’s vaguely and generically perfect past isn’t necessary to demonstrate the tragedy of his situation, it adds a layer of complexity to Goode’s two-faced Gary, who attended the same high school as Chris and is still in awe of the former hockey star even as he takes advantage of him.
While The Lookout is being billed as a heist movie, this label is misleading because the heist is simply a catalyst for Chris’s journey of self-discovery. First conceived by writer and director Scott Frank many years ago, the film is clearly a labor of love for him, with every detail (and actor) carefully chosen and every character outfitted with complex emotions and motives. A skillfully rendered cross between a fast-paced crime story and a compelling character study, The Lookout will be on your mind long after it ends.