Looper doesn’t waste time
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
ReleaseDate: Sept. 28
Studio: TriStar Pictures
A man in a field determinedly waits for someone, glancing over his pocket watch and then raises a shotgun. A second man emerges, his face masked by a bag and his hands roped together. The first man shoots him.
The notion of time travel has provided some of most complex film plots throughout the years – The Terminator, Back to the Future and Groundhog Day, to name a few. Now there’s Looper, with a premise so inconceivable that director/writer Rian Johnson probably had blazing migraines penning the script.
This film serves as a labyrinthine trail through space and time for its characters and the audience, manifesting its own rules of time travel in comprehensible fashion. Looper doesn’t question the astonishment of time travel but cherishes it.
It’s the near future: Louisiana 2047. The man is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Premium Rush), and he’s a Looper – an assassin sent back in time to kill and dispose of his targets in the past. Joe narrates, in a noir-like tone, the pros and cons of the Looper life, which he mostly embraces. Injecting drugs and buying hookers, Joe solemnly accepts his murderous role in society.
Joe’s last assignment before early retirement arrives – the last person he wanted to eliminate. The older, future Joe appears (Bruce Willis, The Expendables 2), unmasked and boundless. They lock eyes in understanding, but the older Joe rebels and escapes. Younger Joe knows the penalty for losing a target. He reloads his gun and is more determined than ever.
The film diverts onto an unsuspecting path. It digresses into the story of how the older Joe became a target.
But what becomes fascinating is the dual perspective that is created – the audience understands what both men need to do, along with the consequences that follow if they fail. Should these men work together? Should they eliminate one another? Looper underlines these tensions, soaking the audience with suspense.
The director Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom) indisputably loves filmmaking. Looper is just another example of this, after his first two films Brick and The Brothers Bloom showed his earnest creativity. Looper is his best film yet because he has finally solidified his characters and doesn’t solely rely on tricks for success.
It must be noted how much Gordon-Levitt resembles a younger Willis in the movie. A viewer will watch the younger Joe and almost believe he’s John McClane in the future. Gordon-Levitt wore a prosthetic nose during shooting and studied Willis’ expressions and mannerisms so well that his performance turns into an embodiment of Willis. Is there any role that Gordon-Levitt can’t handle?
Strong supporting roles are filled by Willis himself, Jeff Daniels (Quad) as head of the Looper organization, Emily Blunt (The Five-Year Engagement) as a steadfast farmer and inevitable love interest for the younger Joe and Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks) as Joe’s co-assassin. All of these actors received adequate direction from Johnson’s script, which propels them to understand their characters and what’s at stake for them.
Looper slightly loses its balance by juggling a telekinesis sub-plot, which never really goes anywhere. But Johnson still manages to drive his story all the way home. He has fun filmmaking, and his films are a testimony to that. Johnson is certainly another recent and exciting independent filmmaker to watch out for who reportedly rejects Hollywood screenplays and instead favors his own. There’s so much to respect him for.