Tuesday, October 2

Looper Review

Dir: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis,
Emily Blunt, and Jeff Daniels

Rian Johnson has shown considerable promise as a director with his first two films; the youthful nourish tale Brick and the comedy crime caper The Brothers Bloom. Johnson’s third film is ambitious, tackling science fiction and the difficult concept of time travel. Looper, guided by a steady hand and strong characters, tackles the journey through time in the dystopian future with more than satisfying results.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper, a hired assassin, who works for a crime organization that operates 30 years in the future. Time travel is discovered and immediately made illegal, but criminals in the future are reaping the benefits to dispose of their problems, mainly people. Joe is intuitive, knowing his time as a hired hand is temporary he saves his earnings in hopes of traveling the world. The problem with this profession is looper’s are privy to company secrets, leaving the future organizations to close the loop once in for all. This leads Joe to an assignment that has him holding a gun to his future self (Bruce Willis).

There is an interesting relationship between the past and the future that Johnson develops early on with some creative environments and wardrobe decisions. It would be hard to identify the era if it wasn’t for the flying vehicles and hyper stylized nightclubs. Past is everywhere in Looper; from the flapper girl style of a high end stripper with a heart of gold (Piper Perabo) or Gordon-Levitt’s dapper 50’s fashion; it’s a nice touch of the “old is new” style. Casablanca even makes an appearance as Bogart and Bergman’s chance Paris nightclub adds to the tone of yesteryear. The past-future relationship is well executed and keeps the film grounded with a sense of realism.

The time travel aspects of storytelling can be overwhelming but Johnson offers a non-confusing, though still complex, explanation. The standout characteristic of the narrative is the development of the primary characters. Johnson spends a large portion of the first act dedicated to Gordon-Levitt’s Joe before we are introduced to Willis’ old Joe in a short montage of his aging and changed personality. It’s an ingenious contrast to see the promise of youth and the caution of age displayed in a character.  There are some slight missteps unfortunately, an introduction of a crucial character arch comes about late and some of the science fiction themes feel slightly overused.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an accomplished actor, again showcasing the range he is able to achieve, while Bruce Willis still handles the reins of an action vehicle with surprising ease. There is a great tension filled diner scene that displays both of their honed skills. Emily Blunt is also good as an overprotective mom with a gun. Her interactions with her son Cid, an excellent Pierce Gagnon, are touching and offer some great depth with their relationship.

Johnson utilizes violence with staggering and sudden effect, but it never feels gratuitous. The theme of desperation in the future world leaves its’ inhabitants in a constant mode of survival. Everyone seems to have a weapon, which makes everyone a threat; this gives Looper an underlying western gunslinger sensibility.

While the film might seem somewhat influenced by The Terminator, it’s more suitable to compare with the 1962 film La Jetée with a touch of 1995’s Twelve Monkeys. Looper is one of the better time travel films in recent memory.

Monte’s Rating
4.25 out of 5.00

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