“Looper” is a mind-bending journey through time

 “Time travel has not yet been invented, but thirty years from now, it will have been.”

The year is 2072 – and when the mob wants somebody dead, they’re sent back thirty years (to 2044?), where a hired gunman is poised for the job.  Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is this type of gunman, but what happens when the future boss wants to “close the loop” and sends Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) back in time?

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), Looper is a mind-bending sci-fi-action-thriller ranking on par with recent films like Inception (2010) and Shutter Island (2010).  Johnson’s script, though not ingenuitive, is stimulating with its presentation of a dystopian future.  People disappear and their murdered bodies are hidden in time, sometimes at the hands of their younger selves, all in the name of the Rainmaker.

Part of Looper‘s strength lies in its artistic stylization (James A. Gelarden) and cinematography (Steve Yedlin), both of which make the film appear as glamorous and rugged as if it were something plucked from Hollywood’s Golden Age (late 1920s-early 1960s).  It’s a particularly strong cinematic piece when moments from inside the night club are contrasted with the cane fields of the farm – representative moments that contrast emotionless filth and cold disconnection with wholesome purity, emotion, and love.  Despite its recent popularity, this stylized appearance is only partly responsible for the film’s success, the other part relies on the interpretations of the actors – most of whom breathe convincing life into the story.

Looper reunites Johnson and Gordon-Levitt, who previously worked together on Brick (2005), and sees Johnson direct Gordon-Levitt to one of his best performances to date.  JGL, as fans like to call him, provides subtlty while admittedly portraying “a young Bruce Willis,” and nails it.  Maybe it’s the prosthetic nose, subtle eye movements, body language, or just the raspy whispered lines, it’s clear JGL is captivating everytime he’s on-screen and is a joy to watch.

Gordon-Levitt’s future counterpart, Bruce Willis, plays as expected in what could arguably Looper‘s weakest performance (if you disregard those of Jeff Daniels or Garrett Dillahunt), which, when stacked against Gordon-Levitt’s, isn’t terrible.  To Willis’ credit, he actually emotes (as opposed to being just the action star).  Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) portrays an almost unrecognizable, American farmer named Sara in one of two female supporting roles.  Sara is a strong, independent, and seemingly fearless single mother.  Blunt’s character is in stark contrast to the other supporting female, and single mother Suzie (Piper Perabo).  Perabo (Covert Affairs, Coyote Ugly) gives a provocative, though brief, performance as an exotic dancer (and prostitute), whose subplot is more shocking than relevent, and may leave her fans questioning, “you took your clothes off for that?”

Solid performances and stunning visuals allow Looper to dynamically succeed.  Between constant action, thrilling story, and super-stylish atmosphere, there’s always something grabbing and holding your attention.  Looper runs approximately two hours and is rated R for strong violence, language, sexuality, nudity, and drug content (though this “R” plug could have been pulled completely instead of partially).

Grade:  A-

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