PG Cooper: Looper Review

Posted: October 2, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Release date: September 28th, 2012

Running time: 1 hour and 58 minutes

Written by: Rian Johnson

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt

Writer/director Rian Johnson has built a small but strong fan base thanks to his films The Brothers Bloom and especially Brick. I haven’t seen either film, but the strong word of mouth has been enough to put Johnson on my radar. I wasn’t overly fond of the trailers for Looper, but the concept was very intriguing and the cast looked good. Add on to that the immense critical praise and it became clear Looper was something I needed to see.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, so I’ll just describe the basic setup. In the distant future, time travel has been invited but is illegal. Criminals use it to send back people they want killed. A hired assassin waits in a field, a target appears from the future, and the assassin blows them away with a shotgun. These men are called loopers. They’re well paid and the job is pretty straightforward. The downside is in order to tie up loose ends the loopers future-selves are sent back to be terminated. Essentially the loopers are forced to kill themselves. This is called closing your loop. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper who’s older self (Bruce Willis) escapes. Thus Joe needs to take him down.

One of my worries about Looper was that the premise would be the only interesting idea. Thankfully this isn’t the case. The plot takes numerous twists and turns throughout and stretches far beyond the initial concept. One of the film’s most important elements isn’t even strictly tied to science fiction. Speaking of time travel, Looper handles the concept in an intelligent way. It does not run into any huge plot holes and uses time travel in a pretty innovative way. Granted, there are still elements we’ve seen in other time travel films, but this is still the most original time travel film in a long time. The story is also emotionally involving and the film elicits sympathy for most of its characters.

The acting is very good. Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers one of his best performances (second only to 50/50 for me). He’s a cold blooded killer but he also has a lot of humanity to him. Levitt also does a remarkable job capturing Bruce Willis’ mannerisms which lend a lot of credibility to them being the same person. The younger Joe also has a nice arc through the film that was handled very well. There’s just enough of it to be believable without slowing the movie down. Bruce Willis is also quite good here. He isn’t really pushing himself but does a great job as the older and wiser Joe. He still maintains a killer instinct, but he also brings a lot of heart and emotion to the screen well. The two play off each other well and it’s amusing to see them clash given they’re the same person.

The supporting cast delivers too. Jeff Daniels does a very good job is a villainous mobster. What’s great is that Daniels never goes out of his way to be menacing. He actually has a very laidback demeanour throughout. And yet there’s something threatening about him anyway. Child actor Pierce Gagnon plays a pivotal role and while I wouldn’t say he knocks it out of the park, he is very good especially considering his young age. Emily Blunt is really good here too, though there’s a scene with her character that I found unnecessary. I do take issue with the character played by Noah Segan who is a bit too comedic for me to take seriously. For the most part the cast is pretty solid though.

I was surprised by how much of an action film Looper turned out to be. It skirts the line between acceptable and over the top, but thankfully never descends into utter lunacy. I was also blown away by how violent the action was. It doesn’t hit The Raid levels of brutality, but there is blood and you feel the consequences of the action. There are a lot of great action scenes here including chases and fights. But most of the action boils down to a few cool shootouts. Even if you can’t get behind the story, Looper works on the action alone.

I had a mixed reaction to the technical elements of the film. First and foremost, I thought the make-up used to make Joseph Gordon-Levitt more closely resemble Bruce Willis was excellent. I wouldn’t say Levitt was a dead ringer for Bruce Willis, but I could accept that Levitt would grow into looking like Bruce Willis. I do take issue with the more futuristic visuals. The design cities didn’t really jive with me. In part because they were a tad generic and in part because I feel the effects used to bring the cities to the screen were weak. I also felt the costume designs were a really silly for a lot of the supporting characters. What’s really weird is that a lot of the film takes place in a rural setting with no real futuristic designs. It makes me wonder why they didn’t just set the bulk of the film in the present and save the futuristic elements for the scenes depicting old Joe’s story. I realize these are minor problems and I’m not saying they ruined the film or anything, but they were a little off putting.

If I were to compare Looper to a film, it would be Inception. Though I don’t think Looper ever hits the highs Inception reached, both are very smart science fiction films which use a simple concept in order to tell an original and creative story. Both films are also very intelligent films while still being action packed and exciting. I do have issues with Looper, but they are very minor. Looper is a smart and engrossing film which entertains while still making the audience think and it even contains some nice thematic ideas about fixing your mistakes and owning up to them. One of the year’s best films.

Rating: A

  1. le0pard13 says:

    Yep, that’s what I’d rate it, too. Fine review, Daniel.

  2. Jordan Mady says:

    I can see Gordon-Levitt and Willis being an interesting combination. I’ll have to see this one. Great review as always.

  3. r361n4 says:

    Glad you loved this movie too, I also compared it to Inception in my review but I agree that Nolan’s film was a more rewarding experience as a whole. I think what I’m most impressed with is the film’s incredibly low budget, it gives me hope that we can see a lot of similarly intelligent yet inexpensive sci-fi films in the future

  4. i got a bit of a feeling an inception similarity too ,but this has its own box just like inception does. i also though the makeup was exceptional!

  5. I would definitely recommend Brick and Bros Bloom, since you havent seen them, theyre great.

    Happy you loved this one, I thought it was awesome. Looper vs Inception. Hmmmm….. Thats interesting. Very similar in certain ways, great point!

  6. I wouldn’t give it an A but I understand why you might. Good review :D

  7. brikhaus says:

    I find it fascinating that all you people liked this movie. PGCooper, you are right about “Brick”, great movie, but mostly because it comes close to being “Brik.” Anyway, this movie was a waste of time and lack of awesome. Here’s why:

  8. CMrok93 says:

    Didn’t have me as emotionally-invested as I thought I could have been, but still, a pretty solid sci-fi flick that’s heavy on story and characters, which is all that mattered to me. Great review PG.

  9. ianthecool says:

    Well they needed it set in the future for the twist with the kid alter. I suppose that’s why.

    I agree that the rural/urban contrast was odd. Actually I agree with you in most things here. Good review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s