Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Looper

So here we are; yet another Joseph Gordon-Levitt flick. Hey, I’m not complaining. By now you should all be well aware of my love for JGL and know that I’ll watch anything he’s in. Three JGL flicks in one year = excellent year for movies.

Looper is the flick that we’re looking at today. It’s the new film by Rian Johnson who previously directed Brick and The Brothers Bloom…neither of which I’ve seen. There’s been a lot of buzz about this film because essentially JGL is playing opposite Bruce Willis with the twist is that they’re playing the same character. Time travel, baby! But a lot of people have been pretty damn skeptical about whether JGL was the right choice to play a young Willis (except that Levitt was cast first so Willis is actually supposed to play an old JGL). I have faith in Beta is Dead’s number one actor, so I’m willing to give this movie the benefit of the doubt.

Full review after the jump.

Countdown...TO MURDER!
The year is 2044. Joe (JGL, appropriately) is a looper, a low-level assassin who specializes in killing targets sent back in time from thirty years in the future. His job is a necessary one because in the farther future it’s difficult for even the most powerful criminal organizations to kill someone and dispose of the evidence. When a looper’s contract is up he is sent his own future self to kill; this is called “closing the loop”. One day, after many of his fellow assassins have closed their loops recently, Joe is ready for what he assumes is a routine job. His loop (Bruce Willis) however arrives unbound and, what’s more looks, like an older version of him. Taken aback the old man gets the jump on him and escapes. Now Joe has to find and kill his older self before his now vengeful organization comes for both of them.

If you’ve seen trailers or commercials for Looper you’ve probably assumed it was an action film. In fact it’s more of a cerebral thriller with a lot of action. The difference lies in the fact that in a film like this you can’t turn your brain off; you have to think. If you don’t like thinking then I suggest you go watch The Expendables again. For people who in fact do like to think you’ll want to watch this film.

 Anyway this was a very well-directed film. I’m not a film guy in the sense that I studied film or anything so I may not be the best authority of what makes a “well-directed film”, but I do know that I thought that the vast majority of this movie seemed but together pretty damn fine. The script was equally good and nothing felt too forced or out of place. The film had me on the edge of my seat all the way through and there was a point where I felt it dragged.

Old Joe: "This is kind of awkward but we don't have money in the future."
Old Joe: "Plus you did invite me out to lunch..."
The plot is great. There’s a fantastic sense of moral ambiguity that a lot of movies try to achieve but mostly fail. The film seems to be a bit at odds with who is the character we’re supposed to be rooting for, Young Joe or Old Joe, for about the first half but expertly manages to slowly have us realize that one of them is truly villainous and needs to be stopped. It was well executed. Also the Time Travel plot is pretty damn interesting. Some people have pointed out flaws but in my mind it’s as good a story as any Time Travel movie. Also besides the temporal mechanics there’s also at least one other major science fiction element that none of the trailers really show off well but is super integral. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t see the ending coming, which seems to happen less and less as I get older, and while I was somewhat upset by it at first I realized later that it was pretty f**king awesome. It was an entertaining journey of a young asshole becoming a better person. The growth of character is exactly what I demand so often of so many things I review. I loved Young Joe in this flick.

The cast here is also great. Anyone who doubted JGL’s ability to play a young Bruce Willis better take out their forks because it’s time to eat crow. Thanks to prosthetics and make-up they manage to make Levitt at least look like it’s possible that he’s a younger Bruce Willis and, because he’s like the best actor in Hollywood, he totally manages to do a good Willis impression. Shockingly for everything they did to JGL to transform him into Young Joe it was actually Emily Blunt who seemed make a true metamorphoses. From a physical point of view she was tanned and had her hair dyed blonde but the way she talked, the way she moved; she became such a different person I seriously didn’t realize who she was until way late in the movie. Now I’m not exactly Blunt’s biggest fan but she really opened my eyes in this film. Bruce Willis…pretty much is playing “Bruce Willis” like he always does. It’s not bad at all but it’s also not going to win him any awards at the Oscars. Pierce Gagnon, who was about five years old at the time, was a shockingly great as Cid. I have to wonder if we’ll be hearing this kid’s name again in the future.

Okay Emily, I guess I'll forgive you for your last flick
The supporting cast is also great, but I want to point out Garret Dillahunt who basically has an extended cameo. While he’s really good in the short time here’s there I just really want to point out that he’s probably my favorite TV actor. He has guest starred in a lot of shows such as The 4400, Life, and Burn Notice (and currently star on Raising Hope) and he plays radically different characters convincingly and often. He’s one of the best actors alive and for some reason I don’t usually hear his name on that list. HE’S AWESOME!

The only thing I didn’t really like was that we don’t get to look at the world as much as I would have liked. The world of 2044 is a dirty, crusty failure and I wanted to see more of it. Also I wish we got as more detailed explanation about The Rainmaker. There was an awesome scene that showed Joe as a young man throughout the years as he becomes Old Joe; I wish something similar was done with The Rainmaker’s story.

Ready to smoke some turkeys (so long as they come real close and stand real still)
Those are the most nitpicky of nitpicks. As far as I’m concerned this movie is a perfect science fiction thriller. Hell, it’s the best science fiction movie I’ve seen since Duncan JonesMoon. It’s a completely fantastic film and while I was expecting it to be fun I never thought I’d be saying it’s arguably the best movie of 2012. I’d never heard of Rian Johnson before this film but suddenly I feel like he may be one of my favorite directors. Looks like I’ll be checking out some of his older flicks. Anyway if you haven’t yet you NEED to watch Looper. I give it my highest recommendation. (Incidentally I find it weird that somehow Bruce Willis stars in BOTH of my favorite films this year so far) 

I give Looper 5 out of 5 Adorable Pandas


-Excellent acting from the cast 

-Great storytelling 

-Great science fiction elements 

-Legitimately interesting and engaging plot 


-Certain aspects of the film could have used more development


  1. Please forgive me for jumping past the jump, but I’m thrilled to see that you gave this a five out of five! After I read about this movie called Looper directed by Rian Johnson, whom I had never heard of, I decided to investigate a bit more. A few of the people I work with at DISH mentioned that The Brothers Bloom was good so I added it to my Blockbuster @Home queue. I loved it! The guy has a real talent for cinematography so I kept the movie a while since my membership doesn’t have late fees chained to it, and I even added Brick to my queue as well. I plan to see Looper this weekend since all I keep reading and hearing about it are good things!


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