Joseph Gordon-Levitt Looper

Looper isn’t your average sci-fi, action movie. In fact, some might find it incredibly hard to even call it a sci-fi action movie at all, since its obvious from a certain point in the film that these aspects blur into the background as the well developed characters, emotional quandaries and real moral questions take centre stage. I gave an audible sigh as I walked away from the premier of the Sweeney, thinking that 2012 was a year of guns, explosions, foul language and absolutely no substance in the movie world, and fortunately I have seen a film that bridges the gap between the action and substance.

Looper Film Review

Looper isn’t your average sci-fi, action movie. In fact, some might find it incredibly hard to even call it a sci-fi action movie at all, since its obvious from a certain point in the film that these aspects blur into the background as the well developed characters, emotional quandaries and real moral questions take centre stage. I gave an audible sigh as I walked away from the premier of the Sweeney, thinking that 2012 was a year of guns, explosions, foul language and absolutely no substance in the movie world, and fortunately I have seen a film that bridges the gap between the action and substance.

Before you watch Looper, I think its important you understand Rian Johnson’s resume of filmmaking, because if you want an all out action, sci-fi movie with time travel, futuristic guns and massive explosions, you’ll be disappointed. On his list of achievements, Rian Johnson has had mixed success at the box office, but received critical praise for his works. Brick was his first big screen outing in ’05 (also starring Godon-Levitt), and this made a great proportional return on the budget. Following Brick was The Brothers Bloom in 2008, and this received a limited release and shockingly poor takings (and is my second favourite con-man film after The Sting). So to come back to the big screen, after guest directing an episode of multiple award winning Breaking Bad, is a bold step and show of faith, and it looks well placed!

Looper's Miata

I walked in to Looper with little to go on. I had heard Joseph Gordon-Levitt talking about it in interviews, I’d seen the trailer and been confused by the teasers (the ones PR companies are hiding across the internet). It certainly looked like it was going to be some kind of time travelling rollercoaster of explosions and pointlessness, but instead we get something deeper, something more akin to Donnie Darko and Twelve Monkeys. I can’t go into great detail because I don’t want to ruin the film for you, but there are some genuinely brilliant dilemmas and questions that are asked and figurative battles fought between the characters: age and experience versus impetuous youth, selfishness versus selflessness, nature versus nurture. What makes these work is an acting tour-de-force which is really quite unexpected.

Rian Johnson has worked with Gordon-Levitt before on Brick, and he even has a 2 second cameo in The Brothers Bloom, so he knows how to get the best out of him. However making him up to look like a young Bruce Willis seems quite odd, and yet, after you get over the fact that this guy looks very little like that young, angst-filled cop from the Dark Knight Rises, it is incredibly convincing. Gordon-Levitt, for me, makes this film reach the heights that it does by capturing the mannerisms of Willis that we saw in his earlier films like Die Hard, even down to the walk and cock of the head whilst he delivers certain lines. Shocking how the boy from 3rd Rock From The Sun has grown up, and now he isn’t just some kind of indie film star, but is proving himself as the thinking man’s action hero.

Whilst Gordon-Levitt holds a mirror up to the younger Willis, old Bruce Willis himself is no slouch, and although he has relatively little to say throughout the entire film, he does so with aplomb. The screen veteran’s physical presence and acting makes up for his lack of dialogue. He hits emotions well, and isn’t afraid to break down in tears more than once – an odd sight for the tough guy, but that makes it all the more emotive.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt fact-to-face with Bruce Willis

By now, reading this, you must have realised that the sci-fi in this film is limited. Sure there is time travel, but we don’t know anything about it other than it works, its illegal in the future, and it works with dodgy looking components. Don’t get caught up on that, Rian Johnson expects movie goers to be able to digest it as is, and in the movie Old Joe tells us not to get caught up on the details when addressing his younger self. That being said, the future we see in 2044 seems entirely relatable – the transport system is still a joke, fossil fuels appear to be rare, cars and bikes barely work even if they do fly, your cellphone still won’t get reception when you need it to, and guns are as basic as always (shoot and kill) without any fancy laser blasters. Sure, we never address how we got to this point, but that adds to the beauty of the film, which practically ignores this from about half way through.

Dancing Girls in Looper

Whilst I might choose to go on about the great character development, believable and emotive performances and those grand questions Johnson poses, there were certain elements of the film that really caught the eye. Firstly, as a male, you can’t help but notice that Piper Perabo and Emily Blunt drop in, both very easy on the eye, the former being the beauty of The Prestige and Coyote Ugly and perhaps the most pleasing to see (topless – ahem). You also cannot help but notice the ride that Young Joe has, which looks incredibly out of place in the dingy looking future. This is a 1989 Mazda MX-5 Miata, a curious choice, but one that feels like its a kind of nod in the direction of Back to the Future, picking an odd vehicle. Of course, this really is second to the women in the movie. Emily Blunt reportedly signed on to the film having read only half the script, and I’d be curious to find out which half, since the film practically turns on a six-pence half way through, so she must have had quite a shock when she finally finished reading it!

All in all, I walked away pleased to have seen Looper. It has reaffirmed my faith in good action movies and good story telling. People will sit and poke holes in the plot, or take issue with some of the sci-fi, but ultimately we are told to just get over it, quite literally! This is more about Rian Johnson’s musings on some bigger issues, and this is just his vehicle for delivering them. And this vehicle is sexy and a sweet ride too. Rian Johnson has a great future ahead of him.

Thanks go to Stella Artois for sorting out our preview.

Emily Blunt LooperBruce Willis Looper

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