Looper (2012)

looper IMDb

I know that I’ve professed my love for time travel stories before on this blog, but in case you forgot: I really, really love time travel movies. It’s definitely my favorite science fiction sub-genre. I recently decided to write a book, and discovered that half of the ideas in my notebook are time travel related. What can I say– I’m very dissatisfied with my life and want to go back and change it! (Not really. But that’s an actual criticism of the genre I read on the internet one time, and I was like, “Um, no random commenter. It’s just a freakin’ cool idea.)

Obviously, the Back to the Future trilogy are the best time travel movies ever made (there is no debate), but Looper has worked it’s way into my heart. This is a gritty and violent version of altering the past, that weaves in other sci-fi elements to craft an entertaining and unique action flick. It also has an amazing cast who ground the story in reality as they introduce the more fantastical elements.

Let’s first talk a little bit about the cast, because Looper is as much a character drama as it is a sci-fi action film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Joe, a hit-man for the mob. Because bodies are difficult to get rid of in the future, mob hits are sent to the past where men like Joe kill and dispose of them. Joe and his hit-men colleagues are known as “loopers.” When the mob decides to end a looper’s contract, their future self is sent back in time to be killed by their younger self, thus closing their loop.

Gordon-Levitt is always amazing, and this is no exception. What makes his performance in Looper especially great is that he’s basically doing an awesome Bruce Willis impression the entire time. Willis plays the older/future Joe, and while I initially thought the makeup effects used to make Gordon-Levitt resemble Willis would be too distracting, they’re not. I only noticed them for about five minutes, and then I was so engrossed in the story and Gordon-Levitt’s performance that I never gave it another thought.

While Gordon-Levitt and Willis play the same character, their portrayals of Joe are markedly different. The two embody the character’s different stages of life, and create a complex portrait of a single man coming face to face with his past and future sins. Gordon-Levitt brings the requisite cocky arrogance to young Joe, convincingly showing a man who in another timeline would kill himself and then go on a nearly three decade drug and violence fueled bender. Willis is the older, more mature version, the man who has gone through that hell, but found redemption. Both men are stubborn and disappointed in who he was/will become. This dynamic is perfectly played and feels so real, despite the time travel circumstances that have facilitated their meeting.

A lot of credit for Looper‘s success also belongs to screenwriter Rian Johnson. This is an elegant script, employing the concept alternate timelines in some interesting ways. For me, time travel is all in the details, and Looper does an excellent job of laying out its rules and then adding interesting details within those rules to advance the story. This is a really smart science fiction film, but not so smart that it becomes boring or self-important.

I really can’t say enough good things about Looper. This is the type of film that sticks with me for days afterwards, and no matter how many times I watch it I’m still haunted by the ending.

Rating: A

After just reviewing Lockout, where Guy Pearce does the best Bruce Willis impression, we get to this great film where Joseph Gordon-Levitt also does his best Bruce Willis impression. The only difference is that he is playing a younger Bruce Willis, and is infinitely better at impersonating Willis than Guy Pearce was.

Looper is an awesome and original story that I really enjoyed. Levitt plays Joe. He lives in a time when time travel exists, but has been outlawed. Illegal use of time travel is used by the mob, though. They send people they want dead back to the past and have them murdered, hiding the body in the past where it is much easier to get rid of. Joe is a looper, one of the men hired to kill these targets. Loopers are hired to carry out the murders until one final time when they kill an older version of themselves, closing their loop. Once they kill themselves, the loopers retire and enjoy their life until their time to die in the future comes up. When Joe’s older self (Willis) is sent back to be killed, he stops Joe from killing him and gets away. Younger Joe has to hunt down his older self, or his mob boss superiors will kill him. Along the way, young Joe ends up on a farm with a young woman (Emily Blunt) who is raising her child (Pierce Gagnon), who may grow up to be evil. Older Joe is on the hunt for this kid, and Young Joe must decide if he is willing to let his older self carry out this murder or stop him in his tracks.

This is such a cool movie. I really loved the story and how original it was. Time travel is such a cool tool for storytelling and I really love it when it is used right. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great performance as a younger Bruce Willis. He is wearing quite a lot of makeup to make himself look more like a younger version of Willis, but he also does some great facial expressions and gestures that emulate Willis so well. Levitt gives a great performance.

Director Rian Johnson has created such an awesome world here. Looper was one of the best films of 2012. I really enjoyed it, and I love that Johnson has been hired to direct and write Star Wars Episode 8 and 9. I love this decision, Johnson is an inspired choice to direct a Star Wars film and I am really excited to see what he can bring to the franchise, especially after creating such an awesome sci-fi flick in Looper.

Rating: A-

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