Accomplished screenwriter Scott Frank makes a very assured directorial debut with The Lookout. It's not spry in the way of his adaptations of Elmore Leonard like Out of Sight and Get Shorty, but there's plenty of atmosphere in this emotional, mostly well-paced character-driven work.
Featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels, this layered caper picture has these two actors instead of big name stars on view, and it definitely works for the better.
Daniels is the avuncular Lewis, the roommate of the challenged Chris, who happens to be blind. Sound advice comes from this amusing, clear-headed fellow, and Daniels never tries to be a scene-stealer, and shares genuinely moving moments with Gordon-Levitt, quite watchable in low-budget efforts like Brick and Mysterious Skin.
For those caught up in the backwards strip drama Memento, physical reminders are left by Chris in order to bring simplicity to his addled state. His work in a lower-tier bank as a second-shift janitor will put his disability to the test as a heist is in the making.
If one considers Chris to be like the insurance investigator played by Guy Pearce, then the alluring Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) has the quality of Carrie-Ann Moss as a stripper who makes him a little weaker. Fisher essays a character which adds to the gravity of Chris' life.
The latter stages of The Lookout are engrossing, though maybe not in a taut way, as lives hang in the balance once Chris makes up his mind. One may be reminded of pictures like Reservoir Dogs and Fargo, especially in some scene staging and tracking shots.
Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, and Bruce McGill provide serviceable backup in a film that may depart from its pulpy tones, but reaches a very satisfying conclusion, given the investment in the narrative, Frank's forte. If the direction is less understated than one wished, then Gordon-Levitt moodily commands the screen as he (and Daniels) mysteriously, yet gratifyingly get under our skin.