Ror Reviews: LOOPER
Looper has been getting a lot of rave reviews, but are they warranted? Read on to find out what I thought of Rian Johnson's time travel flick starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt. Some mild spoilers ahead..
Sci-fi in general is a tricky genre to get right, but add in time travel and it gets even trickier. One of the main reasons so many of these type of movies fail is that they make things so complicated that they end up bending - or breaking completely- their own rules, and when that happens it just takes you out of the movie, no matter how much balletic gunplay is on display. Thankfully writer/director Rian Johnson knows this, and although the film is not without a few surprises, the focus is squarely on telling a pretty simple story, but doing it very, very well.
If you've seen the trailers then you know the premise. In the future, hitmen known as "loopers" dispose of targets sent back from even further in the future when time travel has been invented. They are well paid, but accept the job knowing that one day they will have to "close the loop", and eliminate the older versions of themselves, sent back as a target from the future. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) find himself in a bit of a predicament when his future self (Bruce Willis) zaps back with no intention of dying quietly. That's how it starts, but where it goes from there will most likely surprise you. As I said, things are kept relatively simple, but at the same time the story does not unfold in a conventional way at all. Expecting both Joes to team up to take down the "bad guys"? Not here. Aside from its unpredictability, another major upside to Looper is its refusal to pander or insult its audience's intelligence, and from one perspective, they are the bad guys.
The two leads are on top form here. Levitt subtly apes some of Wills' mannerisms and voice, without ever coming across like he's just doing an impersonation of him. And although his facial prosthetics look a bit rubbery and unrealistic at first, you do get used to them. He makes young Joe an anti-hero we can root for, but never too sympathetic either. Likewise the older version. Willis hasn't showed this much range in quite a while, probably not since 12 Monkeys which Looper has a few things in common with. Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano also offer fine support.
The action scenes are, for the most part, brilliantly handled and exciting. My only gripes were a few "oh just fucking shoot him" moments (for a bunch of professional killers, these guys can be lousy shots), but it never really hinders the tension too much. Director Rian Johnson also, thankfully, doesn't resort to any slow-mo gun battles - everything is quick, impactful and brutal. The dramatic elements work, and there are even a few laugh-out-loud zingers in the razor sharp script too. Without giving too much away, one of the best things about the film for me was the ending. No sequel bait here - a complete story with a beginning, a middle and an end, and that's that.
Looper may not be a "game changer", but not everything needs to be. It's still one of the best sci-fi movies we have had in a very long time. Trust me, Rian Johnson is going to be at the top of everyone's CBM director wish-lists after this.
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