Oct 12 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Every now and again a film comes along that surprises you with its quality.
Director and writer Rhian Johnson’s sci-fi thriller Looper falls firmly into this category to provide some of the year’s best thrills, spills and smart storytelling.
Set in the year 2042, it follows the story of “Looper” Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his day job of killing people sent back in time from the year 2072 by the mob.
Things dramatically change for Joe when he is forced to hunt down and kill his future self (played by Bruce Willis).
I loved Johnson’s debut high school film noir homage Brick and he manages to top even that with his first truly mainstream feature.
His story isn’t as complicated as it sounds and one character’s assertion that he “doesn’t want to talk about time travel” sums up Johnson’s confidence in his audience to go with the flow.
That’s not to say things are simple; far from it. Plot developments and genius twists create some surprising antagonists and characters’ morals shift as circumstances change.
Loopers’ playboy existence (fancy cars, drug use) mixes with poverty throughout the city (“vagrants”), and the idea of criminals being the only ones with access to time travel is very intimidating. At one point Jeff Daniels’ mob boss Abe voices his love of new, original movie ideas and though there are nods to The Terminator and The Matrix, Looper feels really fresh.
There are too many cool moments to mention but a 30-year montage, one character’s body parts disappearing, an awesome show of power from the mysterious “rainmaker” and the best movie diner scene since Pulp Fiction are all so superb you’ll be dying to see them again.
Johnson and his visual effects team led by Karen Goulekas (Spider-Man, The Day After Tomorrow) create the year 2042 as a world not too far removed from our own, with added flying vehicles and advanced technology.
Gordon-Levitt, re-teaming with Johnson after his lead role in Brick, is fabulous. He nails Willis’ mannerisms and the prosthetics he’s buried under aren’t as grating as first feared.
Willis will surprise you with a dialogue-light role quite different from anything you’ve seen from him before.
Strong support comes from Daniels and a shotgun-wielding Emily Blunt (Sara).
Looper isn’t just one of the year’s best movies, it’s a true modern sci-fi masterpiece.