October 1, 2012

Movie Review: Looper

I am going to give you a name. The name I am to give you is one out must commit to memory. It is not exactly important to remember for the purpose of this review, it is more for the quality of movies that he makes. The name is Rian Johnson. You may not know it yet, but he is a man to keep an eye on. He has now made three films and all of them take familiar ideas and turns them into something extraordinary. First was Brick, the high school drama told like a noir film. Second was The Brothers Bloom, a twist on the con man tale. Now there is Looper, a fascinating take on the time travel story.

I suspect there are a lot of you who have not seen Brick and The Brothers Bloom, I highly recommend that you track them down. In the meantime, while you are out looking for them, stop by the multiplex and see Looper in the theater. You will not be disappointed. There is something about this movie that brings action, science fiction, and emotion into a nice package that will lead a mark, make you ask questions, and just flat out entertain.

Looper is a time travel movie that embraces the paradoxes that usually accompany them. It takes the time to set up its rules and it plays by them to the end. It will probably take a few more viewings to put them all together, but with this first watch, it seems hat everything fits together.

Joseph Gordon Levitt stars as Joe. Joe is a Looper, assassins in the present of 2044 who shoot guys sent from the future and dispose of the bodies. In the future time travel was discovered and outlawed. Still, criminal organizations find ways to use it to get rid of their enemies by sending them to the past for disposal. It is all explained better in the film as it moves it's way to the main narrative.

The main story her concerns the closing of the loop. This basically means that at some point on the future, the looper as outlived his usefulness and instead of leaving them alive with the knowledge they have, they get zapped to the past where there are killed by their younger self. In the case of this tale, Joe's loop is about to be closed. Old Joe (Bruce Willis) appears, sans hood, and is able to get away. This puts Joe on his boss's radar, while he also tries track down his older self.

Even bigger than just Joe versus Old Joe, there is the introduction that a new boss in the future is closing all the loops, killing everyone, called Rainmaker. Old Joe has an idea straight out of Terminator, find the young Rainmaker and stop him before he becomes the feared Rainmaker. Young Joe, meanwhile, wants his life back and believes killing his older self will afford him that.

Everything builds from there. It is a fascinating film that keeps up a pretty quick pace, but knows how to squeeze in the time travel talk and some actual emotional content. Characters realize the gravity of their situation, they learn about themselves, of others, and drastic measures need to be taken.

I realize that I may not have made it sound as good as it really is. I beg that you just are my word for it. Looper is one of those movie's that is firing on all cylinders.

Writer/director Rian Johnson has a wonderful knack for taking familiar ideas and injecting them with new life such that they feel original again. The characters he creates are involving and fully realized. He also has a way of mashing together a variety of looks into the film. I mean, look at this film and the way he has his characters outfitted and the way they act, it is set primarily in 2044, but it has this feel of the 1950's as well. Johnson has managed to make a time travel movie that makes sense, is self contained, yet does not answer every question. It is satisfying yet leaves you with a want to talk about it.

It doesn't hurt that I has a solid cast and some very good performances. Joseph Gordon Levitt delivers a fine, nuanced performance as Joe. He is matched by one of Bruce Willis's better recent performances. There is some nice supporting work from the likes of Jeff Daniels as the loopers' boss, Paul Dano as Joe's friend, and Emily Blunt as a fiercely independent single mother.

I wish the words flowed more freely so I could truly impart on you how good this movie is. It is a movie that works on many different levels. It brings a new perspective to the time travel movie. It is intelligent, affecting, and involving. See it. I am sure you will love what you see.

Highly Recommended.

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