Lookout, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -4

Joseph Gordon-Levit, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Bruce McGill. Action/adventure. Written & Directed by Scott Frank.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The crime drama is centered around Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a once promising high school athlete who becomes mentally impaired after a tragic accident.As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Riveting. Though we start out with teens doing something stupid that we know is going to lead to a tragedy, youre hooked right away. Sure enough, the lead shuts off the car lights so he and his girl and their friends can see the fireflies. It is a mistake he must live with the rest of his life. Admittedly, thats not exactly a drawing card for a fun-filled night at the movies. Nor is what happens next. Betrayal.

The accident has left him with a mind that finds it difficult to reason. He must write things down on a pad in order to remind himself how to reason situations. But he has dreams and a job. Hes a custodian in a bank. Hes trustworthy. All this is known to a con artist.

As awful as the wreck and its aftermath has been, its nothing compared to the thought that someone would take advantage of an innocent. The crook befriends Chris and tempts him much like Satan did Adam and Eve.

Besides a terrific performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock From the Sun, Brick, Treasure Planet), a young actor who chooses interesting roles and then inhabits them, plus a trenchant script, the film has two important messages/reminders. One, there are people disguised as friends who will use you and even leave you with an empty sack. And second, though God and loved ones will forgive you, life never will. You will pay for your mistakes. And youll find as you develop your character that your infractions will remain a part of you, even if you can forgive yourself.

Its a well-written, powerful parable. Alas, it is one filled with profane and obscene language, not to mention graphic sexual situations. Though there is a moral character, a blind man who sees far more than most people, there is no awareness or seeking of Gods input. If you do not wish to subject yourselves to the R-rated content, allow me to suggest the following video alternatives:

The Apostle. This perceptive drama, written, directed and starring Robert Duvall, never condescends, nor is it antagonistic toward people of faith while telling its story of a good but imperfect mans redemption. PG-13. I found nothing offensive for exploitive purposes. The implied adultery, its one violent scene, the reverend's faulty nature, and a couple of mild expletives serve to further the story rather than shock us or malign the ministry.

The Gospel. A semi-autobiographical film about the transformative power of faith and forgiveness, The Gospel is a contemporary drama packed with the soaring, soulful sounds of gospel music. Set in the impassioned world of the African-American church, The Gospel tells the story of David Taylor (Boris Kodjoe), a dynamic young R&B star torn between his successful new life and the one he used to know.

Joni. Not a great movie, but an engaging true story of Joni Eareckson Tada, who overcame depression and aloneness, after an accident left her a quadriplegic.

Places in the Heart. A literate script presents a determined widow (Sally Field) bent on saving her farm during the '30s Depression. Contains perhaps the greatest ending to a film this buff has ever seen. A repentant adulterer is finally forgiven, when his wife, moved by the pastor's sermon, takes her husband's hand during the service, signifying the restoring of a relationship through Christ's love. Just as we put our hankies away after that moving moment, another symbolic healing occurs. I won't give that one away. Trust me, it's powerful! Rated PG (some mild language, implied adulterous affair but it furthers the story and it is not explicit).

Saint Maybe. Blythe Danner, Edward Herrmann, Melina Kanakaredes, Thomas McCarthy, Jeffrey Nordling, Mary-Louise Parker. Not yet on DVD, but it can be found on video from Hallmark. Worth it. When a neer-do-well finds himself the cause of his brothers death, he seeks a reason for his life. He stumbles upon a church gathering and quickly turns his life around, living for others. This affecting Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of a family dealing with the loss of a loved one is a wonderful film suitable for the Christmas holidays. There are so many powerful messages and life lessons, none of which overpowers the entertaining drama. What a delight to find a film where scripture is quoted, the Christian lifestyle is not mocked, prayers are spoken and the gospel message is put into practice.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Some crude sexual comments.

Obscene Language: Around 40 obscenities, most the f- and s-words.

Profanity: Around 5 misuses of Christs name and 4 uses of Gods name followed by a curse.

Violence: A deadly car accident is alluded to, with flashbacks showing the bloody aftermath; there are two beatings; a bank is robbed, wherein a gun battle ensues, with men, including an innocent victim getting killed. Another gunfight occurs. Blood: Men are wounded and killed by shotguns, leaving bloodied corpses.

Sex: Two graphic sexual situations.

Nudity: Backside male/female nudity.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several graphic sexual discussions, including one concerning masturbation.

Drugs: Drinking and drug use

Other: None

Running Time: 99 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.