It seems as though we can never get enough of time travel stories, different dimensions and “what’d happen if you changed the past?”. Sure, movies have thrown this idea around a lot, but so too have television series such as The Simpsons, Family Guy and Sliders. Audiences love the “what if…” scenario. So, what if you met your future self and were charged with killing him / her, or you would be killed yourself. Welcome to the world of Looper my friends… one of the best movies of the year.
So I might have jumped the gun a little there, and let slip that this is a fantastic movie, but why should I keep teasing you with what my verdict may or may not be for an entire article?
The premise of Looper, if you’ve not been drawn in by the trailers, is that Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper – a contract killer of sorts who disposes of people that are warped back in time by some future authority. By doing so, the person disappears from the future, and in the present? Well, they find a totally unknown body. Simple. Except if you factor in the whole time travel thing… that’s probably a little complex. However, Joe’s contract is terminated (closing the loop) when his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back for extermination. Future Joe runs… and so present Joe pursues.
Ok, it sounds complex, but I’m not doing it justice. If you’ve seen the trailer then you’ll know the gyst of the film. However, what I will say is that if you’ve seen the trailer then the film offers much, MUCH more than what you’d expect. Although I don’t want to divulge too much, let’s just say that things have happened by the year 2050 (when the film is set). It’s not a cyber-punk future ala Total Recall, but there are certain differences in the people and places. Saying much more would ruin what is a brilliant script and plot.
Whilst I could wax lyrical about the plot, I’ll restrain myself. Needless to say, it’s captivating and sucks you in from beginning to end. It’s not an M. Night Shyamalan movie – we’re not going to find out that Bruce is a ghost or an acid trip by young Joe.
What I will yabber on about is the acting. Bruce Willis is, and will remain, one of my favourite actors. I think he’s great. That being said, he’s been putting out little in the way of big blockbusters in recent years. They’ve either not been starring roles, or they just weren’t that widely applauded. Looper changes this. Bruce is back to his best – he’s weathered, world-weary and determined. It brings to mind the John McClane of yester-year – humour and all. What is remarkable is how they’ve made Joseph Gordon-Levitt look so much like a warped version of young Bruce. Sure, we all know what Bruce Willis looked like in his younger years… essentially the same as now, but with more hair… but the make-up artists have gone to town to make sure his brow, his eyes and general demeanour are like Willis‘.
Levitt never really registered on my radar in recent years. I knew him as that kid from 3rd Rock From The Sun when he appeared in 2010’s Inception. Since then, I’ve checked out some of his older cuts (which inspired little in me), but this guy has bloomed. If you enjoyed his acting in The Dark Knight Rises, then his performance here eclipses that. So long as you can get over that make-up, you’ll be fine.
I also need to mention two other key players in the film: Jeff Daniels and Pierce Gagnon. One of these names you should recognise. For me, Jeff Daniels will always be Harry Dunn from Dumb & Dumber (a personal favourite), but here? Wow. Daniels is great. Here he plays a mob boss – Joe’s employer. His scenes are all sublime and were really a revelation to me about just how good an actor he is. Maybe if I watched The Newsroom I’d already expect such abilities from the guy. The second name on that list you won’t recognise. Pierce Gagnon plays Cid – a young boy that features prominently in the film. This kid has skills. His acting is extremely mature and obliterates many other child performers’ abilities. I just hope that this guy sticks at it and doesn’t become a Haley Joel Osment. Remember him? He sees dead people. Maybe there’s a correlation between Bruce and good child actors? If you’re a parent – put your kid in a Bruce Willis film pronto.
After so much gushing about the characters, I hope you can see why I loved the film. For me, it was a perfect combination of character-driven story and an innovative and creative plot. People are comparing Looper to The Matrix for this reason, and although Looper probably isn’t as ground-shattering as The Matrix was over a decade ago, it’s still a brilliant piece of film-making. You’ll wonder why you’ve not heard of writer / director Rian Johnson before and rightly so… because he’s not directed anything on this scale before. His closest run in with the big time was 2005’s Brick, which also featured Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I personally found Brick dry and quite tiresome, but others hail it as a cult film you must see. I predict much bigger things for Looper. This won’t be a cult hit. This should just be a hit.
I’ve no idea where Rian Johnson pulled this idea from unless he was visited by a future traveller… or unless Rian Johnson IS a future traveller that possessed intimate knowledge of the future film industry. However, considering his miniscule and less-than-Earth-shattering directorial resume, I doubt this somewhat. But never say never…
Levitt and Willis are obviously the stars of the film and put in some brilliant performances, but you can’t discount the supporting cast either. Everyone is firing on all cylinders to make Looper a standout film. Sure, it probably won’t win Oscars because it’s not that type of film. But what it is is a great example of modern day cinema. It’s the sleeper hit of 2012 and one that I’ll travel back in time to see again… Or at least travel back to the cinema to see again.