How does Looper hold up?
If you’re looking for a smart, original story that’s creative with stale concepts, and filled with great performances from a cast, then Looper is the movie for you.
In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of somebody, they send their bodies thirty years into the past to certain assassins to be killed before they technically ever existed. These assassins are called Loopers, and when a Looper is sent his future self to be killed, it’s called “closing the loop”. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of the best Loopers in the business and he doesn’t have a problem killing his future self if it means saving his own future timeline. Unfortunately, Old Joe (Bruce Willis) does. So when Old Joe is sent back in time and manages to fight off his younger self, the future itself is up in the air as one man tries preserving his past, while another tries making a future.
Time travel is a staple of sci-fi movies. You couldn’t live these days and not know what to expect when someone from the future comes to the past. Rian Johnson, writer and director of Looper, takes time travel and makes it gritty, intimate, and personal. When there is a future Looper on the run, what happens to their bodies in the past, alters their future selves. Cut your arm in the past, your future self running around gets the scar. And that’s not the worst of what could happen. I’m not an expert on science fiction novels or films, but these moments of the film had me stunned and impressed with Rian Johnson’s creativity and uniqueness. The world the film takes place in is a near future where everyone seems to be simply trying to survive. There is looting and killing on the streets of this chaotic city that the narrative takes place in and around. It isn’t a utopia or a dystopia, but a world filled with lost men and women just looking to be found.
The trailers for Looper enticed me enough to get me into the theater, but they don’t do the film justice. Looper is like an iceberg, and three-thirds of the story isn’t revealed in the trailers. These days, most film-makers show all their cards in the trailers because they have to to bring in their audience. Looper kept me in the dark so that when the real plot of the film was revealed, I was surprise and thrilled. That’s what’s missing from most movies, a plot that is solid and grounded enough to make you emotionally attached to the characters and feel sorry for them when they make hard choices and mistakes.
The cast does an excellent job with fine performances across the board. Gordon-Levitt’s make-up to have him resemble Bruce Willis was awkward at first, but by the end of the film, I’d forgotten what the actor really looked like. Bruce Willis has a few key scenes where he does an incredible job showing us Old Joe’s terrible loss and internal conflicts to get what he wants. Jeff Daniels as Abe, a man from the future sent back in time to run the Loopers, doesn’t have many scenes, but they’re all enjoyable as always. Emily Blunt is instantly charming as she works on her farm and smokes an imaginary cigarette on her front porch in her introductory scenes. Young actor, Pierce Gagnon (One Tree Hill) has such a cute, precious quality about him that half the audience in the theater sighed and “Aww’d” when they saw his chubby cheeks. Hopefully this kid sticks with the acting because he could have a big future. That’s if he doesn’t get kidnapped by some woman for being so damn adorable. The range of emotions Gagnon captures in the film are impressive for anyone, let alone someone so young.
Looper is a breath of fresh air for sci-fi films and arguably the best one to come out of 2012. Rian Johnson is a very talented man who proved that he has the scope and know-how to create a high-budget film that can bring in an audience as well as retain quality. It’s exciting that studios are more open to giving these indie-directors big budgets and letting them run wild, trusting in their skills as story-tellers to make great films. Rian’s first feature-film was Brick–an awesome movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a must-see–and then The Brother’s Bloom. His directing list of films isn’t very long, but despite the quantity, the quality is there and I’m eager to see what project he takes on next.
Looper is a must-see for anyone who loves science fiction films and anyone who loves films in general. Don’t miss out on one of the best movies of the year.