Synopsis: In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels
Director: Rian Johnson
Running Length: 118 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (9/10)
Review: Lately, whenever a movie arrives with huge buzz I’ve found myself more resistant to believe only because the hype machine can be ramped up for pretty much anything. With the internet growing and word-of-mouth advertising becoming a thing of the past, it’s easy for studios to plant some seeds of hype around the web to gain traction for their film. That way when opening weekend arrives, audiences are more likely to go with what they hear rather than what they read.
In the case of Looper, the buzz has been growing steadily since the film was first screened. I approached the film with some hesitation only because there are several elements that I wasn’t sold on. The first was director Johnson who directed the overhyped Brick (which, admittedly, I never made it all the way through after several attempts) and the second was wariness for revisionist sci-fi. So when early reviews were good, I didn’t fully believe it. When major critics began giving it thumbs up, I didn’t fully believe it. Well, now that I’ve seen it…I fully believe.
One of the better films (entertainment-wise) to be released in 2012, Looper is the kind of movie that should make you want to go to more movies. It’s clever, funny, unconventional, and an absolute blast to let wash over you. Unlike similarly enjoyable movies that you can experience and leave behind, Looper stays in your brain for some time after and keeps working on you throughout the rest of your day/night. It’s not a deceptive film that you’ll need to watch over again to fully appreciate it (like Inception, another Gordon-Levitt film) nor is it a film you’ll WANT to watch only once.
The key to its success is a willingness to try something different – not a totally unique quality in film these days but one that rarely leads to the rewards Looper offers. There are concepts at work that couldn’t be pulled off by the uninspired or relayed by a group of people that don’t love the medium of film.
Starting with a bang (literally) the film is in a state of constant motion which keeps it several steps ahead of its audience along the way. Instead of getting so far ahead that we can’t catch up, Looper leaves breadcrumbs in its wake to keep you moving forward without getting lost. You do have to pay attention to see the nuances of the time travel storyline but it’s in these details that the film is most impressive. Non-linear storytelling seems to be making a comeback in film and TV (heck, even Gordon-Levitt’s Premium Rush benefited from this angle) and in Looper the jumping around to different times nearly always makes perfect sense.
After the film was over I sat with my movie mate and discussed the various jumps the movie makes and what that meant to its overall impact. If you dig deep there may be a few, um, loopholes that become evident but you’ll have to make a strong case to me for why they detract from the overall thrust of the movie.
With Looper, director/screenwriter Johnson finally proved to me why he is a director on the rise. As previously stated, I found his Brick to be interminable…so much so that I skipped his next film The Brothers Bloom. There’s a sophistication to this work not present in his previous films and the film community is a better place because of it. Johnson , cinematographer Steve Yedlin, and production designer Ed Verreaux have collaborated on an sharp looking, well fashioned film that looks exactly like it should. Like Robot & Frank, their vision of the future is less about flying cars and aliens and more about plausibly advancing our technology to several decades from now.
After The Dark Knight Rises and Premium Rush, Gordon-Levitt scores another win in 2012 (and he’s not done yet…he plays Lincoln’s son in Spielberg’s upcoming Lincoln) with a role he clearly put a lot of work into. Playing a young version of Willis, I didn’t always see the connection between the two…but it matches enough in the mannerisms and speech that it begins to make sense. Gordon-Levitt has the tougher job than Willis in the impression department but Willis also shines in a role tailor-made for his talents.
Blunt makes a total detour from the characters she’s played previously to deliver another on-the-money performance as a ballsy single mom. Playing her son, Gagnon is a real find…equal parts precocious and mysterious as his involvement in the future is revealed. It’s heady stuff for a kid to play and Gagnon is more than up for the challenge even at his young age. Daniels makes less of an impact as crime boss…but maybe it’s because he looks like he just woke up for many of his scenes.
The one thing I’ll say in the negative category is that the movie felt longer than it was. Two hours is still a long film but there were times when its eyes may have been bigger than its content and it overreached a tad too far. Still…that’s a problem with the editing not with the full picture.
Violent at times and violently funny at others, Looper is a nicely executed cinematic meeting of the minds that delivered full force entertainment for your hard earned cash. I went in expecting to be entertained but left entertained and inspired. With a tiny trim to tighten up the running time, this could be one of those films that we look back on as the beginning of a new movement in the sci-fi genre.