Sunday, September 30, 2012

Looper (2012)

Director: Rian Johnson
Notable Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels

For my first review back from a brief "work vacation," my wife and I traipsed down to the cinema to partake in the recently released "Looper." My expectations were mixed on it as many theatrically released films marketed as 'science fiction/action' tend to focus on the latter by watering down the former. That and despite owning "Brick" I have yet to see the acclaimed director Rian Johnson at work. The film does feature the dynamic duo of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, so could it be all that bad? Luckily for all of us cult film fans, its fucking awesome. Perhaps not quite to the caliber that "Moon" or "Prometheus" sit as modern great science fiction, but damn close. It rocks with solid action and it surprises with its depth of thought, but more importantly - its able to blend the two into some easily digestible yet quite filling celluloid.

Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is, at his core, a hitman. A hitman hired by crime syndicates from the future, reigned in by man of the future Abe (Daniels), and trained to kill victims sent back in time for easy disposal. He has enjoyed his life thus far partaking in drugs, wealth, and violence, but that's brought to a screeching halt when his latest mark happens to be his future self (Willis). For a man with a plan, things have hit the fan as he has to chase down himself to discover just why he would want to change the future...and discover just who is the mysterious and monstrous future overlord The Rainmaker is...

JGL has quite come into his own as one of the best actors currently. Sans Cobra Commander in "GI Joe". Let's forget about that movie.
I was quite surprised by the quality of "Looper." It does have moments where it simplifies its rather complicated time travel story for the audience, but really the film is far more clever and violent then I expected. Clever and violent. Two things I certainly love in my science fiction and "Looper" ably handles both. It navigates its time travel inconsistencies with enough self awareness to make them seem plausible and justified to the viewer and adds in some very cool twists with moral dilemmas (about selfishness and how are actions may create the catastrophes that we are fighting) that really make the film a hard core thinking one. At times, I did almost want the film to push even further with some of its subject matter (perhaps adding in some social commentary and further detail about the futures), but for a mainstream released science fiction film I was more than impressed.

Director/writer Rian Johnson definitely plays off the audiences expectations though. The trailers made the film seem like a more standard actioner featuring shootouts with both JGL and Willis (which the film does), but they rarely touched on the whole second half of it. Not giving too many secrets away, it really embraces its science fiction roots at this point and with some great thoughtful writing from Johnson (who does not shy away from the genre) and an eye for details visually, "Looper" goes to some unexpected places and does so with as much glory and grit as is required to work. This is built on some stellar performances from both Willis and JGL, where the latter does an amazing Willis impression without ever seeming out of place while doing it, and some extraordinarily violent and effective action set pieces to give us what we all initially are coming to see the film for. This is not a film for the weak of stomach or thought as its pretty hard "R" with what it presents both conceptionally and visually - but that's just how we like it here at Blood Brothers.

It takes two to tango. And hold a hostage.
"Looper" might not quite reach the science fiction quality heights of Duncan Jones' material lately, but its still a massively well executed film that really embraces its elements. It's driven, smart, and ultimately a film that will leave you thinking of consequences for a long time. A trick that many films lack in the genre. It has a stunningly talented cast (including a rather underrated performance from Emily Blunt) and for fans looking for Willis to kick some ass it has that too. It might have a few flaws here and there, but that doesn't stop it from gunning for the gold in full gear and its that final piece that will set it aside from its peers. Highly recommended.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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