Friday, October 5, 2012

REVIEW: Looper


Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt


September 28, 2012

Rian Johnson

TriStar Pictures, (Sony)

1 hour 58 minutes



Joseph Gordon-Levitt might be having the best year of his career so far. First he's in 'The Dark Knight Rises,' and then he went for a cheesier but fun role in 'Premium Rush.' Now he's in a new sci-fi movie called 'Looper,' co-starring British babe Emily Blunt and action star Bruce Willis. In a world where sci-fi movies don't have much originality anymore, 'Looper' stands completely on its own as an original movie. Sure many have seen a bunch of movies about time traveling, but this one takes us out of the machine and asks the audience "If one could meet their future self, would they try to change their future?" 'Looper' is smart, gritty, original, and flat out brilliant.

In the future, time travel has been invented, but it has been declared illegal by the government. Criminals in secrecy still use time travel, though, to get rid of people whom they want to be assassinated Instead of killing them in the future, the criminals send the person, tied up and their face covered, back 30 years where a hired assassin called a "looper" is there with a gun ready to shoot them down. Loopers live good lives, partying, taking drugs, etc. on a daily basis. However, what happens when Joe, one of the best loopers in the business, has to kill someone who may have the key to changing the future once and for all, for better or worse: himself?

Rian Johnson has been a name that's been floating in the underrated crowd of Hollywood directors. He's directed two episodes of the hit show 'Breaking Bad,' as well as two smaller movies called 'The Brothers Bloom' and 'Brick,' the latter starring Gordon-Levitt when he was still an up and comer. It's very easy to see that Johnson has a true visionary's eye, because it shows that he clearly knew the film he wanted to make. The film is very well directed throughout, with the film feeling and looking stylish, retro, and really cool. It's also really well written, with tons of smart ideas being thrown at the audience throughout, some unexpected twists and turns, and some really sharp and clever dialogue at times. I can only hope that people actually consider nominating the script for some awards. It is without a doubt one of the most original screenplays I've seen come to life all year.

Johnson had stated before that the role of the younger version of the main character Joe was always written with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in mind. However when they got Bruce Willis to do the film, they had to add special prosthetic pieces to his face in order to make Gordon-Levitt look like a young Willis. Sure enough, the makeup department pulled it out of the park with that. JGL looks nearly unrecognizable as the 'Die Hard' star, which adds to the realism of this futuristic world. Plus, the visuals in this film, as subtle as they are, look phenomenal and seem like they wouldn't be a part of a $30 million budget film. The makeup department deserves some serious recognition for the work they did on Gordon-Levitt. As for the cast in the film, in short, they blew it out of the park.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance in 'Looper' may possibly be his best mainstream performance thus far, since '50/50' and '(500) Days of Summer' were all independent/small films. Not only does he perfect every gesture and facial feature of Bruce Willis, but he also just plain and simple gives a damn good performance. There are so many layers to the young version of Joe, and the audience sees the pain and frustration in this character, which affect the choices he makes throughout the film. It's also interesting to see the older version of Joe, played superbly by Bruce Willis, going through other types of emotional pain and having a different motive than his younger self. The actors might be playing the same character, but both versions of Joe are so different from each other, which makes it more interesting for the audience to choose sides during the middle part of the film. Both Willis and Gordon-Levitt give fantastic, complex, and bad-ass performances that people will most definitely be talking about for a while.

Emily Blunt plays Sara, a southern woman with a young child and a past filled with secrets. If somebody had not seen a movie with Emily Blunt in it before, like 'The Adjustment Bureau' for example, they might be incredibly surprised to find out after seeing the film that she is, in fact, an English actress. Not only is her performance great in the film, but Blunt's southern accent is astounding and incredible. There wasn't a single slip of her real accent at all during the film, and that alone was really impressive. Not only that, but Blunt looks gorgeous as always in the film, despite looking like "trailer trash." This is an actress who might not be known much to Americans, but pretty soon she should get more roles in films that let her explore more complex characters and find new acting tricks. Willis and Gordon-Levitt might have impressed, but Blunt deserves just as much praise as them.

There is also the son of Blunt's character, played by newcomer Pierce Gagnon, who gives one hell of a fantastic performance, which could be compared to Haley Joel Osment's astounding performance in 'The Sixth Sense.' It’s kind of funny how that coincidentally stars Bruce Willis as well. Even the supporting cast, which includes Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels, are all great for the smaller parts they're given. It's the main three leads of the movie, though, that give the "out of the park" performances.

At first glance, 'Looper' may look like another time travel movie with an interesting twist. The movie is exactly that, but it is also much more than that on so many levels. Not only is this a well-acted and visually astounding film, but it also is well-written and explores so many creative and original ideas that not many movies have had the guts to show before. This is one of those movies that deserves some serious awards recognition, but chances are that it will be snubbed. It's possible to even say that 'Looper' is this year's 'Drive,' meaning that it gets a lot of critical and audience love, but gets snubbed at the Oscars and even the Golden Globes. If you are a sci-fi, or even just a movie buff, this is a must see movie that is definitely worth seeing on the big screen. 'Looper' is one of the year's most compelling and exhilarating films, plain and simple.



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