Release Date: September 23, 2012
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan.
Looper is being promoted as the sci fi action thriller of the year and, with its all-star cast, expectations are running high. Fortunately, Looper rises to the challenge. While time-travel can be a tricky device, Johnson handles it brilliantly by using time-travel as the background for the plot which stays with present Joe, played by an excellently cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
The biggest obstacle Looper had to conquer was the casting of Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis. Many people have commented on the prosthesis used to manipulate Gordon-Levitt’s face (apparently Willis is too iconic to reshape) and not all these comments are positive. Personally, I found the change became less noticeable as the film played out. In any case, it certainly works in conveying Willis, especially alongside Gordon-Levitt’s delivery. One particular line, where he states his decision to wear ties as a fashion choice, sold me for the rest of the film. Though, perhaps not when the film shows the between stage and suddenly Gordon-Levitt is channelling Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3.
The rest of the cast are similarly tight in their performances; Willis is his usual self but manages to avoid stealing the show; Blunt only occasionally slips into an English accent as farm girl Sara; and Daniels as the present boss of Loopers is often amusing as a laid back ruler. However the best performance comes from Pierce Gagnon as Cid, Sara’s child. I don’t wish to reveal too much about Cid or Gagnon’s amazing acting. Suffice to say, you will be blown away.
The plot is nicely played out with the pacing keeping you on your toes, moving from fast-paced action scenes to slow-burning suspense. Whenever the subject of time-travel is brought up, some people appear to flinch. They immediately lose focus and somehow fail to comprehend anything about the film. The same can be said about films like The Matrix and Inception despite their quite simple plot. Similarly Looper runs easily, explaining away most questions as the plot flows. No detail is unnecessary so it’s sometimes a little predictable is no less enjoyable.
The connection with The Matrix is no doubt because of the camera movements within Looper, even though the camera sweeps appear to be an fingerprint of writer and director Rian Johnson. The visual design of Looper is undoubtedly a giant plus through both these grand revealing sweeps and the setting which places futuristic transport devices against almost old-fashioned rural areas and timeless realities of life.
If you’ve been waiting all summer for a must-see film, you’ll find this fits the bill if slightly outside the summer parameter. It’s quick, witty, often funny and remarkably simple and down to earth while still being very much science fiction. Together with brilliant acting and direction, what more could you want?