Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: "Looper" the Coop-o-Loop of Time Travel Films

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 6 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Looper (2012)
Running time: 119 minutes (1 hour, 59 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content
PRODUCERS: Ram Bergman and James D. Stern
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steve Yedlin (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Bob Ducsay
COMPOSER: Nathan Johnson


Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Summer Qing, Tracie Thoms, Garret Dillahunt, Frank Brennan, and Nick Gomez

Looper is a 2012 science fiction-thriller from writer-director, Rian Johnson. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was also the lead in Johnson’s debut feature film, Brick (2005).

Looper opens in the year 2044, in a Kansas cornfield. We watch 25-year-old Joseph “Joe” Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shoot a man who suddenly appears in front of him. In the year 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, it sends the target 30 years into the past, where a hired gun, called a “looper,” awaits to do the killing. When the crime bosses want to end a looper’s contract, they send him back so that his younger self can do the killing. It’s called “closing the loop.”

One day, “Young Joe” (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learns that it is time to close his loop when “Old Joe” (Bruce Willis) suddenly appears in front of him. After Old Joe escapes, Young Joe becomes the target of his boss, Abe (Jeff Daniels), leader of a Kansas City mafia company.

When I first saw Rian Johnson’s Brick several years ago, I was impressed. The film was basically a classic detective movie set in a modern, suburban high school with dysfunctional kids and juvenile delinquents playing the roles of the detective, the femme fatale, and the criminals. Looper is more than just a clever time travel story. For one thing, it is probably the most imaginative time travel film since 12 Monkeys (in which Bruce Willis played the lead).

I don’t want to give away any more of Looper’s delightful surprises, shocking twists, and stunning turns. I will say that Looper is not just about the affect of time travel on the characters. It is also about what time, chance, and opportunity mean to the lives of the characters. Thus, Looper is a character drama as much as it is a science fiction film. Of course, there is action; after all, this is a movie in which Bruce Willis plays a major part. His character, “Old Joe,” is so desperate, however, that he is despicable, and that allows Willis to show a range of emotions and to suggest the complicated thought processes going on behind his eyes in ways that Willis rarely gets to do.

Besides Willis, there are good performances all around. Joseph Gordon-Levitt proves himself (once again) as a leading man, and Noah Segan shines (and steals a few scenes) as the anxious-to-prove-himself, Kid Blue. My only complaints about Looper are that it is a bit too long, and it stumbles in places because of that. Still, Looper is thought-provoking and thrilling, and it is something rare, a truly imaginative time travel movie.

8 of 10

Sunday, January 20, 2013

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