Looper – Review

Looper – Review

Review by FilmFellaLozz – 8.3/10

After helming one of my favourite episodes of AMC’s Breaking Bad, (‘Fly’), Rian Johnson had my attention. Add Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of the best actors around at the moment, into the mix; and you may just have a great movie. I don’t even think that the material would’ve mattered too much due to the fact that these are two guys who are very much on top of their game right now. After catching the trailer a few months back, Looper appeared to tick all the boxes. Maybe a little bit too high concept, but I was hoping that it wouldn’t be just another case of style over substance. It’s dangerous to be excited about a movie, because no doubt, it won’t live up to your expectations. On this occasion, let’s just say I was not disappointed.

It’s 2044 and Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper. In 30 years time-travel is possible and making use of it are the bad guys of 2074. Getting away with murder in the future is impossible though. If you send your victim back, however, and a Looper does your dirty work, nobody will be searching for anybody in the present, because in theory they won’t be dead yet. Clever. But what happens when you’re faced with the future you, and it’s your job to kill you? Hmmm…tricky.

The premise is relatively straightforward after the rules are provided to you via a nice little voice-over. Then you’re good to go. We are given insight into the before, the during and the after all at the same time. With this in mind, it’s an achievement in itself that Johnson has crafted a movie that isn’t difficult to follow. He tweaks the lineage of the narrative, but not enough to interrupt the fluidity, whilst at the same time not confusing the audience. He is a director who’s very aware that he’s making a movie for an audience to enjoy. However, this movie can so easily be spoilt if you think too much about it.

There’s a certain amount of forgiveness required to enjoy a movie such as this. I mean, you have The Terminator, for example. If John Connor hadn’t sent Kyle back, he would never have been born. So, one couldn’t be without the other. The same goes for this. But you just have to accept it, because if you don’t you’ll find flaws, and something that you enjoyed will quickly become something that frustrates you. So conscience Johnson is of this very fact, he decided to incorporate a little disclaimer into the dialogue. When Looper’s Old Joe (Willis) meets himself, he refuses to comment and simply says ‘I don’t want to talk about time-travel shit because if we start, we’re going to be here all day, making diagrams with straws’. I guess Johnson just wants us to shut up with moaning over this and that, and enjoy the goddamn film.

It isn’t gonna make you feel any better to rip apart something that can’t be ripped apart. Time travel doesn’t exist. As such, none of us are pioneers in this field, unless you’re Stephen Hawking, of course. I’m assuming you’re not. So, if we went on about how this can’t happen or that can’t be the case, then none of us would be able to enjoy a time travel movie, or any movie when you think about it. Just imagine dissecting Back to the Future. Your life would surely be worse without BTTF in it, right? And it’s irrelevant whether you think the chicken or the egg came first, they both exist. You can enjoy them both on your dinner plate; or frolicking in a field if you’d prefer. What? Never seen an egg frolic? You haven’t lived, man. Anyway, I digress….

After seeing a few Gordon-Levitt movies of late, I have come to appreciate what a rare talent this guy is.  His diversity of character only accentuates my JGL thumbs of approval. His role in Looper is so far removed from Hesher’s rocker or 50/50’s cancer victim, for instance; that I can only look forward to what he does next. It’s not just the variety of roles that is impressive; it’s his performance of course. In Looper he plays a young Bruce Willis; and yes, he does have a minimal amount of facial prosthesis, but the way in which he encapsulates Willis’ expressions and gestures is extraordinary; the smile that’s not quite a smile, more of a dipped-at-the-edges wry smirk that Willis is known for. He gets that perfectly. Who would’ve thought that the douche in 10 Things I hate About You would grow into a very gifted actor?!

Bruce’s old Joe is reminiscent of his time-travelling James Cole in 12 Monkeys. He displays a distant, confused and cold demeanour, but somebody you can feel sorry for. Don’t worry though, he does kick ass with a machine gun in a particularly violent assault on the baddies. Ultimately, it’s the JGL show, and Willis allows his younger counterpart to take centre stage. It could be argued, rightfully so. Along for the ride is Emily Blunt’s single mother who adequately portrays an angry woman with a gun. Adding to the line-up is Pierce Gagnon who acts far beyond his years in a scarily mature execution of his character as her strange dungaree’d son.

Johnson’s vision of a dystopian future is somewhat far too familiar, reminding me of countless other future-set movies. Robocop instantly springs to mind. With that said, aesthetically there’s a fair amount of uniqueness going on here, while at the same time a simple cornfield setting fills a major part of the second half of the movie. One or two pointless characters filling sub-roles kind of annoyed me and the pace slowed right down in the middle, but these are minor problems in what is in its entirety a great movie. This is definitely one to watch and is a highlight of 2012. Just don’t think about it in too much depth. Listen to Jeff Daniels’ bad boss Abe – ‘This time-travel crap just fries your brain like an egg’. See, an egg. A god damned fucking egg. Now, go away, and don’t think about it. Well, think about it, but don’t. Aghh, you know what I mean.

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