Movie Review: Looper

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In the not too distant future, a hit man who murders people sent back from the future fails to murder his future self, and must track his older self down so the people he works for won’t hurt him.

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Rian Johnson, 2012

The year is 2074. Crime is at such a high rate that everyone carries a gun, the streets are run by mobsters and hookers, and while time travel hasn’t been invented yet, it will be very soon. As it’s nearly impossible to dispose of a body after the invention of time travel, a system exists wherein targets of assassination are sent back to the past and hired guns wait to kill them. One such killer is Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt in crazy make up), a hard partying criminal who is saving half his money so he can one day escape the city and live large in Paris. There’s one catch to this lifestyle: when you hit a certain age, you’re sent back in time to be killed by yourself in the past. The day that Joe is sent to kill his older self, he hesitates, giving Old Joe (Bruce Willis) time to escape. Old Joe is determined to change the past, and after befriending farmer and former prostitute Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son Cid (Pierre Gagnon), it soon becomes apparent to Joe that he has to stop his older self at whatever cost.

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I’d been wanting to see Looper for a while. Director Rian Johnson (future director of Star Wars) is always unique and out of the box, and I’d heard this was good. While it’s probably his most polished film, I was actually pretty disappointed with this effort. Looper is a one-trick pony of a film; it has a really great concept, but it has to jump through a lot of hoops (or loops?) to get there. It starts and ends well, fleshing out its premise nicely, but some of the character motivations don’t seem earned. I love a good time travel movie, and the time travel in Looper is actually pretty great; there’s an awesomely gruesome scene involving past torture of the person we’re watching that is worth the price of admission alone. It looks good too, with the possible exception of the weird, heavy make up used to try to make Joseph Gordon-Levitt look like Bruce Willis, though that’s part of the experimentation that makes Johnson an interesting filmmaker, and it can be seen working better through some of the interesting camera work in the film.

I’m sick to death of the “gritty future” rhetoric wherein men are killers and women are whores. Here’s the breakdown of the women in this film: four important women in total. Three have speaking roles; two (maybe three, it isn’t clear) are or have been prostitutes; two are mothers (and the movie has some really strange ideas about parenting); two are murdered. Emily Blunt does her best and nails some really tough scenes – and her sexual desires aren’t demonised, as she makes the first move on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe – but Piper Perabo and Tracie Thoms are wasted on small roles. Gordon-Levitt acts through the make up to do a pretty good take on the Bruce Willis persona, while Bruce Willis just…does his persona. Jeff Daniels makes for an interesting boss for this criminal undertaking, but is routinely overshadowed by a scenery-chewing performance from Noah Segan. The film’s climax is appropriately exciting, but it goes through some seriously slow patches to get there. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will love this movie, and I’m interested to see what Johnson does with Star Wars, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as his other films.

Looper on IMDb

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