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The Lookout

****
2007

‘…unexpectedly menacing and with a palpable tension throughout…’

You can’t keep a good man or woman down, and one of 2020’s better moods was the revitalisation of the career of Scott Frank. He’s he writer/director behind arguably the year’s most unexpected streaming sensation, The Queen’s Gambit, a review of which is coming soon on this blog. A man who knows the mechanics of a good thriller, Frank made a splash on the back of high-profile writing work like Get Shorty and Out of Sight, but this directorial debut was seen and appreciated by precisely no-one, and that’s something you and I have the power to change.

The Lookout is a tense little thriller, with Joseph Gordon Levitt as high-school athlete somehow named Chris Pratt, reduced to menial janitorial work by a fatal road accident. That makes Pratt vulnerable to the nefarious plans of aspiring bank robber Gary Spargo (an early role for the always watchable Matthew Goode), with the comely Luvlee (yes, that’s Isla Fisher) offered as bait. The support of his room-mate Lewis (Jeff Daniels) offers something to cling onto, but as the bank-job becomes imminent, who can Pratt trust?

For Pratt to attempt to keep his thoughts in order with a notebook recalls Memento, but Frank’s film has a low-key feel of its own, with a shaven-headed Goode unexpectedly menacing and a palpable tension throughout. Both Sam Mendes and David Fincher were touted to direct this project, but Frank does well with with a talented cast; making a small thriller work is no easy feat, but Frank has the stones to make a tough little story play.

Frank has only directed one other feature to date, the above-average Liam Neeson action flick A Walk Amongst The Tombstones, so although he’s clearly hot stuff as a director, there’s precious little to clue us in to the break-out job he made of The Queen’s Gambit for Netflix. Anyone curious as to where his precocious talent developed from, or just seekers of a decent thriller to pass the time, should keep a look-out for, erm, The Lookout.

 

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  1. One of those wonderful movies where nothing else was on at t’pictures and I went in with no preconceptions. Yet again, it didn’t meet my expectations, it exceeded them. Jeff Daniels steals the show.

    • Very rare to meet someone who knows this film! Daniels is a super actor and does very well here…thanks for the comment!

  2. It’s amazing when a director suddenly explodes in fame through the creation of something utterly original. While The Lookout doesn’t seem mind-boggling, it’s nice to know there’s something by him to check out if we’re curious!

    • I think Queen’s Gambit is a big pop culture event, and it’s worth tracing the roots of a sensation; this is an unassuming little thriller, but you can see Frank’s style evolve….

  3. I became a fan of Levitt through the tv comedy 3rd Rock from the Sun. Then I watched Looper and my interest put him right back with every other actor. So now I have a vague interest in any movie with him but not enough of one, all by itself, to get me to watch that movie.

    I only recognized the name Chris Daniels from the list of other actors.

    Any idea why they would call one of the characters Chris Pratt? I didn’t look at the year but was that actor not a thing yet?

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