A few years back, an aspiring director named Rian Johnson made a modern noir set in a high school that brimmed with cleverness and style called Brick. This film helped launch Joseph Gordon-Levitt onto the scene, leading to him starring in films like (500) Days Of Summer, Inception, and The Dark Knight Rises. Now, Gordon-Levitt comes full circle to reteam with Johnson for the new time travel thriller Looper. To preface this review, I must say that I love time travel movies, with Back To The Future ranking as one of my favorite films of all time (and I don’t hate the sequels, either) so I was really looking forward to Looper because of it’s dynamite premise more than anything else. Speaking of the premise, Looper follows Joe, a Looper who gets mob targets sent back to him from the future for him to assassinate. When Joe’s future self is sent back to him and gets away before Younger Joe can kill him, the chase begins.
I really like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, especially in films like (500) Days Of Summer and The Dark Knight Rises, but I think this film is
the first time I’ve seen Gordon-Levitt not acting as himself or the usual role he usually plays, rather. Here, he’s putting on his best “Bruce Willis” and especially in a scene (a brilliant scene, at that) set in a diner, the imitation is pitch-prefect. Bruce Willis is also really good in this film, his character being a puzzling one of moral dilemmas and other things that really make you think. His performance infuses both a brutality and level of emotion into this film and the conflicting balance is great to watch unfold on screen. Adding to the cast is Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels, who are both good in their respective roles. Without spoiling much, I will say that a child plays a major role in this film. Children can be the downfall of any big movie, mainly because their acting can be laughable. And while the child is so-so and a few cheesy moments will play for laughs, I’d say the child plays enough of an important part in the interesting plot that it can be considered acceptable.
Why I was sold on Loooper since it was first announced was because of it’s brilliant premise. And brlliant it is. Rian Johnson crafts an intricate and interesting future around this, and the plot blossoms from there with style, chilling dread, and great action. Most of this film is really good, but there’s a lot of moments that slide into downright, science-fiction brilliance. These moments include a flashback (or flashforward?) sequence with Bruce Willis, a dialogue-heavy confrontation in a diner, and a shoot-out in a mob hideout that brims with bloody violence and brilliant brutality. This all builds to an ending I’ve been thinking about since I left the theater. It’s definitely an interesting ending, one that is infused with thought-provoking ideas, but it isn’t quite to the level of emotional fulfillingness that I wanted it to be. However, you’ll still be talking about when you leave the theater and thinking about it for a while.
From a technical standpoint, Looper is fantastic. The film is wonderfully directed and awesomely shot, with Johnson utilizing dizzying but great moving shots to shoot action. Also, prosthetics and make-up applied to Gordon-Levitt to make him look more like Bruce Willis are uncanny and haunting. Besides that, the effects are great, especially for the small budget this film has. Johnson has created a great vision of the future that explodes with cool technology, predictions about class division, and more. In the end, Looper succeeds because of its great direction, screenplay, and slick, utterly cool vibe to become not only the best science-fiction mind-bender since Inception, but also one of the best films of the year so far.
FINAL GRADE: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★
FINAL SAY: Looper is a smart vision of the future, complete with a dynamite premise, sleek execution, cool special effects, thrilling action, and great direction. It’s not perfect, but it’s the kind of mind-bending science-fiction film that will stick with you.