The Lookout

The Lookout depicts a character, Chris Pratt, dealing with the lingering effects of a traumatic brain injury in the somewhat unlikely context of a heist movie. Though he has physically recovered well, Chris attends Life Skills classes (taught by a wheelchair user) and holds down a job as a janitor on the graveyard shift at a Kansas bank. He still has flashbacks of the fateful night when he crashed his car into a stalled truck on prom night, killing two and leaving his girlfriend an amputee.

Unhappy when he contrasts the life he expected to lead (as a star hockey player in high school) with his current existence, Chris initially tries to work within the options readily available to him, asking to work as a teller in preparation for an executive training program out of his reach and discussing opening a small restaurant with his blind roommate Lewis.

Chris and Lewis have a symbiotic relationship; Chris does the cooking and presumably tasks that require sight, while Lewis prompts Chris and talks him through crises. Though Lewis serves as the somewhat cliched portrayal of the sagacious blind man, he came by his street smarts honestly; he was a biker and tough guy before blinding himself while cooking meth.

Recognizing him as vulnerable, a local crook named Gary begins grooming Chris to become one of the gang, plying him with alcohol and the attentions of an exotic dancer named Luvlee Lemons. In one scene, Gary takes Chris “home” to a new makeshift “family” (most of which are in on the heist), promising him a better life. An elderly person shuffles into the room with a walker and is quickly ushered out again with unkind words, and we quickly get the uncomfortable feeling that perhaps they’re being held captive for their Social Security check.

Lewis recognizes the signs of someone trying to manipulate Chris, but lets him make his own decisions about getting involved. When Chris gets in too deep and endangers Lewis as well, he must fall back on the life skills practices he so abhorred.

If there’s one completely unrealistic element of The Lookout (caution: here be spoilers) it’s the glib way his role in the heist was overlooked by the police and court system. In real life, mentally impaired people are rarely given any passes for criminal behavior, even when gullibility is part of their diagnosis. In the United States, it’s quite common for people with intellectual disabilities and low IQ to be executed for crimes they were talked into.


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