All Eyes on Gordon-Levitt

"The Lookout's" Joseph Gordon-Levitt stands out as a janitor at a bank targeted by robbers. (By Allen Fraser -- Miramax)
Friday, March 30, 2007

Former "3rd Rock From the Sun" cast member Joseph Gordon-Levitt made audiences sit up and take notice a few years ago when he made a startling star turn in the coming-of-age drama "Mysterious Skin," dispelling any suspicions that he was purely a one-hit sitcom wonder.

He's still good in "The Lookout," even if the movie itself is a relatively trivial piece of pseudo-arty pulp. The directorial debut of screenwriter Scott Frank (who wrote the crackling scripts for "Get Shorty" and "Out of Sight," among others), "The Lookout" is a heist flick with a twist: Gordon-Levitt plays former high school jock Chris Pratt, who, after a tragic car accident on prom night, is recovering from a serious brain injury. Trying to put his life back together, he's working as a janitor in a rural bank that happens to be the target of a bunch of ne'er-do-wells (including Matthew Goode) he may have known before the accident. (See In Focus on Page 33.)

"The Lookout" takes place in and around Kansas City, Mo., and Frank captures the countryside (played by Canada) in austere tones worthy of "In Cold Blood." But the dour, downbeat story eventually spirals into grisly Grand Guignol and contrivance. Still, Gordon-Levitt is superb, and Jeff Daniels delivers a wry and wily performance as Pratt's blind roommate.

-- Ann Hornaday

The Lookout R, 99 minutes Contains profanity, violence and sexual content. Area theaters.

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