Time: 99 mins.
SYNOPSIS: Chris is a once promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following 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.
BOTTOM LINE: Gordon-Levitt proves his acting chops, playing a young man with a memory problem who desperately wishes to get his once golden life back on track. His life since the accident is a neverending trial, forcing him to write everything he wants to remember down in a notebook to ensure he doesn't forget. His disablility and current employer, a small-town bank, make him the perfect sucker for a local band of thieves looking for a big score. Matthew Goode plays the persuasive mastermind behind the heist who befriends Chris, taking advantage of his loneliness, his broken ego and his need for female companionship. The web they weave over Chris to ensnare his loyalty isn't complex, but it doesn't exactly have to be. His initial excitement at being treated as a trusted and needed member of the team sours when he realizes they aren't really his friends but merely using him to get what they want. His reluctance to aid their plan places not only his life in danger, but those of his true friends as well. The tension is high as the film builds towards the inevitable heist, leaving no doubt that it's not going to end well.
However, how it all goes down is more surprising than I expected. The plot is carefully crafted to lead you to believe certain things about the characters that in the end aren't exactly true. For a small-town bank robbery, the heist sequence is fraught with excitement and truly pays off all the machinations by both Chris and the robbers, who have no qualms about destroying his future or taking his life. Goode and company are brutal low-lifes who make you squirm with fear, especially Greg Dunham. As Bone, he's like a human Terminator, no feeling, no questions, just killing. He has no dialogue and doesn't need it. He's the cold-heart of the crew and without him they wouldn't be half as intimidating. That Chris redeems himself in the end, is sort of a given since he is the hero of the piece but not in a happily ever after way. It's a tight, intelligent script with an unsual protagonist that allows the story to twist and turn in unexpected ways, but is never too complex or convoluted to ruin the ride. Every member of the cast has their moment to shine Daniels is hilarious as Chris's blind, but far from stupid roommate but it's really Gordon-Levitt and Goode's show. They make this smart thriller a film you'll remember.