Friday, September 28, 2012

A Reel Review: LOOPER

LOOPER is an action-packed, time-travelling film with shades of THE TERMINATOR and BACK TO THE FUTURE. Despite a familiar backdrop, LOOPER comes away as one of the freshest bits of science fiction to hit the screens in long time.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a hitman (or Looper) who whacks guys who are sent back in time by the future mob. Joe is getting rich and looking to get out when he is tasked with killing his future self (Bruce Willis). The elder Joe escapes and goes on a killing spree looking to right things in the future; a spree which may or may not involve Sara (Emily Blunt) and her ten-year old son.

To reveal any more of the plot would be sinful, as LOOPER is packed with clever twists and turns; all centered around Young Joe and Old Joe. The two Joe’s have excellent motivations which are nicely fleshed out, and it is easy to root for either one of them. The time-travel logic is spelled out quickly and is never confusing, and is used in very clever ways to keep the characters linked; whatever happens to young Joe effects the elder Joe, both in body and in mind. Despite the time-travel paradoxes and tricks, the film still feels very grounded and realistic, which is attributed to director Rian Johnson’s focus on the characters, and his knack for some meat-and-potatoes gunfights.
The film invests good time into the two Joes, however they only share the screen a handful of times together, and it doesn’t feel like enough. LOOPER has other business to take care of, and doesn’t spend any time on the Joes playing psychological mind-games with each other. The film also undergoes a small shift when things change focus to Sara and her son, and the Joes almost seem forgotten about. The shift doesn’t jar you out of the movie, but you do find yourself looking for more Joe.

Rian Johnson and his production team do some excellent work in bringing the future to life. Veering away from a BLADE RUNNER-type future with towering buildings and flying cars, LOOPER instead brings us a futuristic world which feels like it is just days away from tomorrow. It is executed nicely and keeps the film grounded.

Bruce Willis acts like we expect Bruce Willis to act, and the film also features some phoned-in, albeit good performances by Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is given some great prosthetics to look like a young Willis, also captures the little knicks and knacks which Willis has used to make a career out of. As good as Gordon-Levitt is, the film is nearly stolen by the beautiful Emily Blunt, who buries her British accent in favor of a slight southern twang in her transformative role as an axe-swinging, shotgun-carrying country girl.
The time-travel logic and formula could likely be picked apart, but the film is so darn entertaining there is no reason to care. LOOPER is great sci-fi not only because it engages the mind and the senses, but because it never leaves its characters behind.


1 comment:

  1. Everybody’s good, the writing is top-notch, and the direction kept me on the edge of my seat, but there was a human element that just didn’t come around full-circle for me. I really liked this movie, but I didn’t love it and that’s a bit disappointing considering all of the hype. Good review Alan.


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