Actually the end of The Lookout peters out with a bit of a shrug. The opening is much more dramatic: four teenagers take a nocturnal joyride down a country highway without any headlights. I mentioned there was an accident, right?
The story proper takes place four years later. Chris is working in a small town bank in Kansas. He hopes that one day the manager is going to let him become a cashier. For now he just mops the floors every evening. In the daytime, he attends his therapy sessions, working on sequencing and cognitive issues: pattern, ritual, repetition. If he sticks to a routine and keeps his little black notebook on hand he can lead what amounts to an orderly life. And Lewis has his back.
Then he meets Gary Spago (Matthew Goode), an old school friend. Gary remembers Chris the way he used to be - he was a hockey hero - and embraces him like a brother. Not only that, he introduces him to his friend Luvlee (Isla Fisher), and she's even friendlier. Gary has other friends too. Men like Bone (Greg Dunham). They have a plan to rob the bank, and they want Chris to help them.
The first film directed by screenwriter Scott Frank, The Lookout is an unusually modulated thriller with plenty of off-beat scenes and character beats. Frank is a thriller specialist, with Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Minority Report and Dead Again among his credits. But the caper here is pretty straightforward: Gary wants Chris to unlock the backdoor, that's about it. He doesn't figure on being out-smarted by a half-wit.
Comparisons with Memento are probably inevitable, there aren't that many mysteries involving a protagonist who can't hold more than a single thought in his head at any one time, but like its hero The Lookout is only half-smart; it's at least as concerned with the state of Chris's emotional well-being. Frank writes several sharp scenes about the condescension that's routinely meted out to the disabled, from friends, family and total strangers alike. (Incidentally, it's not only Chris; his friend Lewis is blind. Even Gary uses an inhaler.)
The acting is first rate. Gordon-Leavitt has quickly established himself as one of the most promising actors of his generation in films like Brick and Mysterious Skin. His performance here is refreshingly unfussy and unsentimental; Chris is no Rain Man savant, he's easily manipulated and mostly acts out of self-interest, but he still has a conscience, which distinguishes him from a number of the characters here.
Matthew Goode makes a strong impression as Gary, and Isla Fisher makes Luvlee much more ambiguous a role than the script bothers to flesh out; her scene with a suspicious Jeff Daniels is the best in the entire movie.
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