Josh Wilding Reviews: LOOPER
A masterpiece? Not quite. Rian Johnson's Looper has received an awful lot of praise during the build up to its release today, and while it doesn't quite live up to the hype, it's still a damn good movie. Hit the jump for my spoiler-free verdict.
Chances are that you will have seen an advertisement of some sort for Looper which heralds it as being a "Masterpiece," or "The Best Film Of 2012". Well, while the film is indeed something special, both of these descriptions are a little too generous for Rian Johnson’s solid, but not mind-blowing time travel adventure. The world he has created here is undeniably impressive, and his take on the year 2044 never once feels anything other than very, very real. The writer and director also makes the smart decision to not delve too much into time travel, stopping the film from ever becoming too confusing or convoluted (one scene in which we see the effects of doing something to someone in the present has on their future selves is nothing short of genius). Unfortunately, what stops Looper from reaching a whole other level of quality is the fact that it reaches a certain point and just slows down far too much. It’s hard to go into too much detail about this without spoiling some major plot points, but after a fast paced and thoroughly engrossing first half, the majority of the second half feels far too stretched out despite being full of great character moments and storytelling decisions.
There's no doubting just how smart a film this is, but a lot of the ideas are far from original despite how well Johnson ultimately uses the inevitably familiar time travel clichés. One fairly major plot point is also somewhat predictable, and although the ending is extremely effective, it doesn't quite deliver the impact that the director was more than likely hoping for. However, despite never quite reaching the heights it should, Looper is still a damn good film and the disappointing second half can be forgiven for the most part; just not so much so that the film is the "masterpiece" some would have you believe. While his screenplay may be flawed, there’s no getting around the fact that Johnson is one hell of a filmmaker. Fans of Breaking Bad will remember "Fly" as one of the greatest episodes of that series EVER (no easy feat), and he makes Looper easily one of the most unique and memorable looking releases of the year. He delivers stunning visuals aplenty and the scene in which the years pass to show us how we got from the present Joe to the future one is particularly brilliant.
In terms of performances, it is unsurprisingly Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis who stand out. Made up with some VERY impressive prosthetics, the former still manages to deliver his third solid performance of 2012 (the other two being The Dark Knight Rises and Premium Rush) while not once leaving us doubting the fact that we’re seeing a younger version of Bruce Willis' 'Joe'. Speaking of Willis, he too is on top form here as the older version of the character, and one harrowing scene in particular really gives the actor a chance to show the sort of acting skills that films like The Expendables 2 simply haven’t allowed him to do. There are also plenty of great supporting performances from a wide array of actors who will likely be familiar by face, if not name, although Emily Blunt's 'Sara' doesn’t quite deliver a strong enough performance here to stand out, despite being a mostly well-written and pivotal addition to the cast. Overall, I enjoyed Looper a great deal and look forward to seeing it again, so please don't let the (mostly minor) criticisms here put you off. Unfortunately, it just didn't quite "Wow" me enough to earn a perfect score.
Not quite a masterpiece, but still as brilliant as it is thought-provoking, Rian Johnson's Looper is essential viewing and let down only by the slightly disappointing second half which thankfully still delivers thanks to a powerful ending.
In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented – but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a "looper" – a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good… until the day the mob decides to "close the loop," sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination. The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and also stars Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels. Ram Bergman and James D. Stern produce.
Bruce Willis as Joseph Simmons
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joseph Simmons
Emily Blunt as Sara
Paul Dano as Seth
Noah Segan as Kid Blue
Jeff Daniels as Jack Mitchell
Piper Perabo as Suzie
Garret Dillahunt as Jesse
RELEASE DATE: Out Now!
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