'Looper' Review By John M
"This job doesn't tend to attract the most foward thinking people."
Wow. It's rare for a film to live up to or surpass the hype given to it. The big examples are Avatar and The Avengers. The films didn't live up to or deserve the endless praise given to them, while on the other end The Hunger Games and The Dark Knight Rises lived up to and surpassed the praise given to them. I hadn't heard much about Looper except for that Bruce Willis was in it along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and it involved time travel. For months and in recent days just like The Master has been seemingly getting endless praise from critics, and some time I do question the professional critics out there. They many times seem to heap heavy praise on films that absolutely don't deserve it and ignore films that do. Maybe they think to highly of themselves I don't know, but I never trust critics entirely. That's why I went into the film not setting the bar to high. Of course I was going to see the film it had Bruce Willis in it. I can't think of the last film he stared in that I hadn't seen. No the Expendables 2 doesn't count. It wasn't his film and he has basically a cameo in it. Bruce Willis is the man and I'll see virtually anything he stars in.
Does the film live up to the hype and praise give to it? Yes it does, but does it surpass it that's what I'll get to in my review. First off Looper isn't original it isn't the first to do time travel. It has been done many times from Star Trek, the Terminator films, Frequency, Returner and all the way back to the 1960 classic The Time Machine, so don't expect something truly original. What you do get is something unique well thought out and nearly perfectly executed. The story follows Joe (Levitt/Willis) who is a killer for the mob in Kansas run by Abe (Jeff Daniels) in 2044. The catch is he's a special kind of killer called a Looper. These killers are assigned one task to kill men sent from the future year of 2074 where time travel has been invented and outlawed by the government, and only criminal organizations use it to get rid of people they want dead, because it is virtually impossible to completely get rid of the body in the future. These Loopers lead a good life earning large sums of silver with each kill. There is only one catch to the job and that is in the contract they sign. The catch is they will at one point have to kill their future selves. It quiet the self-cleaning process the mob has devised. The use these killers in the past to get rid of certain elements in the future and to keep the Loopers from talking in the future they send them back to be killed. You can see how a Looper might hesitate to kill his future self and it happens on occasion and the mob has a pretty easy system to deal with that in torturing and killing the present man. That leads us to past Joe meeting his future self-played by the one and only Bruce Willis. Things get out of hand when past Joe hesitates and his future self knocks him out. I can see how that might be confusing to read so I'll stick to their names. Bruce leaves Joseph a note to run and heads to the city. Things get complicated when Joseph doesn't run and heads back to the city to clean up the mess. Only Abe is having none of it deciding to wipe them both out. I won't go into too much more detail about the plot except that Bruce has a plan to change the future to save himself and his wife. That leads Joseph to a farm and Sara (Emily Blunt). The plot is pretty unique. The closest time travel film I could compare it to is Jean-Claude Van Damme's 1994 Time Cop. The decent Time Travel film has kind of the same premise except in reverse. The film just doesn't go as far as it could deciding to just be an action film and nothing more. Looper goes beyond the simple theme and asks questions about Time Travel and what would you do. Like would you kill children if it meant fixing your future and saving your loved ones? How far would you go to change things and can you actually change anything or are you living an endless loop. Looper is a Noir Sci-fi Thriller that blends elements from great films like Blade Runner, China Town, Witness and Bruce Willis's other great Time Travel film Twelve Monkeys. The only flaws in plot were small ones like how did Sara know Joseph was a Looper. Does everyone know about Loopers? The second thing was the parts of the second have faltered a little when they delved into telekinesis. This is me essentially nit picking so people reading this can't complain that I'm saying the film is perfect.
The chemistry by Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was brilliant. These two worked great together mimicking each other well. Bruce is primarily known for being an action star, but the man can act. He's shown it in Twelve Monkeys, Sin City, Unbreakable and other films and Joseph is really becoming one of the best actors of this age. He's proved that in the films I've seen him in which include The Lookout, Inception and the Dark Knight Rises. I haven't seen Jeff Daniels in a lot of films recently, but he worked with Joseph in The Lookout and he was in the fun spider film Arachnophobia and the good civil war film Gettysburg. He is a capable actor and shows it here in Abe mob boss from the future who isn't truly a bad guy. There really isn't a bad guy in the film, but if there were Abe would be the closest thing to it. Then there is Emily Blunt as Sara. She has a limited role in the film only being it from about the half-way point, but what she does with it is heart breaking. I've only seen her in two films but she is brilliant. I loved her in The Adjustment Bureau and she again does a great job. All the characters are flawed looking for redemption and a better life. From saving wife's life to trying to get to Paris, France, or save their child these characters are striving to make a live for themselves even if it is futile.
Does Joseph Gordon-Levitt look like Bruce Willis? Yes, but not perfectly. The makeup people did a brilliant job trying to make Joseph look like a younger Bruce and they partially get there. I'd say they are around 75 percent of the way there. If with the slight flaws the actors acting covers it up easily. The effects weren't anything special, because like Dredd 3D this film had a tiny budget. I believe it has a budget between 30 to 40 million which again tiny compared to modern Hollywood. Still the effects people did a good keeping the future possible. What I mean not going overboard with flying cars, teleporters and the such. The effects and writers kept things in the reals of possible. To be honest though I enjoy special effects and CGI I think when you go overboard with them you take away from the story and characters. The writers and directors know when and when not to use them in the film and it works. I don't think anyone will have any complaints about them. The action is also well done with again nothing truly over the top and Bruce Willis is perhaps the action king. Though I'm sure others would argue that point. To be perfectly honest I've never heard of the director Rian Johnson before. Looking him up I see he's directed Brick and The Brothers Bloom, and again to be honest I haven't seen or heard of these films, but from his job as director of Looper I can tell he has a chance of a very bright future.
Did this for me surpass the praise given to it? Yes without question it did. This film beautifully blends genre's including thriller, noir, action and sci-fi, and inspired by great films like Blade Runner, Chinatown and Twelve Monkey's. Though nothing truly original or ground breaking the film as unique and wonderfully written story along with excellent acting by the great cast. The effects were good, but nothing out of this world along with great action. This is a thinking man's well executed Sci-fi film and I beyond highly recommend seeing this film, and even more than once. I will be seeing it again this weekend. Looper: A truly great film.