Narratives work via sequencing: A leads to B leads to C. But what happens if your main character, as a result of an auto accident, no longer has the ability to arrange his thoughts into sequences? Can the movie hold together? That's the challenge undertaken by writer-director Scott Frank in The Lookout, his low-key, off-beat thriller about a brain-damaged young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who gets lured into a bank heist. Gordon-Levitt's Chris Pratt used to be a high school hockey star. Now he has to jot down notes to himself to remember where - and who - he's supposed to be. And Frank, who wrote the scripts for Get Shorty and Out of Sight and obviously knows his way around a crime caper, uses Chris as the ultimate sap. But maybe there's more going on in that head than meets the eye. Maybe Chris can get from A to C by starting at C and working his way back.
The Lookout doesn't overpower us. It prefers to drill through the side of the safe rather than blow the door off with dynamite. But within its modest parameters, it packs a nice little punch, thanks in part to Gordon-Levitt's subtle performance but also to Jeff Daniels' not-so-subtle performance as a prescient blind man who lives with Chris and, when not shooting his mouth off, helps him with his ABCs.