Loopin for Looper
WARNING: THIS BLOG ENTRY IS EXTREMELY SPOILER HEAVY; ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK
Oh let me tell you children, my sickening obsession for time travel is almost as nauseating and obnoxious as James Cameron’s love for the ocean. Combine that with my undying love for Rian Johnson’s previous films “Brick” and “Brothers Bloom” and you get “Looper”. To start off my insanely large ass kissing blog I will just open with the statement that was said by one critic (too lazy to look up who said it) that this is the best sci-fi film since “Moon”, the best time travel film since “12 Monkeys” (honorable mentions to “Timecrimes” and “Primer”), and it is the best film of 2012 so far. Now while my inner snobby critic would like to put “The Master” above this, my inner super geek cannot.
Looper has achieved what all of the big budget films of this past summer could not: perfect execution from every film making facet (disgusting big words). The writing, acting, music, visual effects, and make up are just all firing off an all cylinders. Joseph Gordon Levitt gives one of the best performances of his career completely vanishing into the role of Joe. Bruce Willis hones back the dramatics that made his performance in “12 Monkeys” so memorable. I know I’m all over the place and this will go off on tangents, but the two of these guys going head to head was just a marvel to behold.
A shining example of the dynamics these two share as well as the beauty in Johnson’s writing really shines in scenes like in the diner when they finally have their first face to face encounter and talk things out. This scene is almost as classic as Pacino and DeNiro squaring off in “Heat”. It’s two great actors playing off each other and showing what they can do. This combined with the wit of Rian Johnson’s script just shouts awesome and shows off why this film is such a success.
Going in I wasn’t sure how time travel would play into the film’s overall plot, but what’s so great is that Johnson shies away from such films as “Back to the Future Part 2” or “The Time Machine” where the machine is used consistently throughout the plot and makes it more like “The Terminator” where the time machine is used only once as a plot device that sets everything in motion. It’s a great concept that rarely gets used. It makes it more about the characters and the risks than the logistics of things.
Johnson’s casting beyond Gordon-Levitt and Willis was impeccable. Noah Segan, in a third return to a Rian Johnson film, shines bright as the downtrodden Kid Blue hell bent on proving his worth to his boss, Abe (also played great by Jeff Daniels). Other great castings include Emily Blunt finally showing her true talent as the rough and tough Sara, Paul Dano dropping in and out way too quickly as fellow looper Seth, Garett Dillahunt (for all you Sarah Connor Chronicle fans) as the sharp shooter gat man Jesse, and probably the greatest child actor in the history of child actors Pierce Gagon as Cid. My God that kid was scary. Also random sighting of Piper Perabo who looked just as gorgeous as she did in the first act of “The Prestige” … excuse the random gawking at beautiful women; moving right along.
Now going more into the writing, Rian Johnson uses a lot of cool little time travel devices either I haven’t seen before, or no one has been clever enough to come up with until now. Whether it was the carving messages into your arm for your future self to see, or the absolutely horrifying display of seeing your own body parts vanish as your younger self is being tortured were so freakishly entertaining. It pleasured my inner nerd hard enough for the entire audience in the movie theater to turn around curiously. Other cool little writing devices were the usage of future gadgets such as the limitations of the blunderbuss gun and how they affect the character’s actions; as well as the flashy cool hover bikes and how they are no more than pieces of shit that barely work.
The biggest aspect of the screenwriting element are the ideas of the loops themselves. The first time Joe’s loop is closed he makes his way to China and slowly devolves into a state of depravity. After this he meets his future wife which begins to set in motion events he is not aware of. While he begins to love his wife more and more, this mega-gangster only known as The Rainmaker appears and takes over all of the crime syndicates. Eventually he mysteriously orders all loops to be closed, meaning all loopers in the future are to be sent back and killed, thus closing their loops. When they come for Joe an incident occurs and his wife is accidentally killed giving him motivation to not die. Once in the past, he escapes and sets out to kill The Rainmaker at a young age.
By the end of the film, once Old Joe has found The Rainmaker AKA Cid, young Joe realizes Old Joe won’t kill The Rainmaker, but instead will kill his mother (Sara), thus CREATING the Rainmaker. This entire course of actions were set in motion by Old Joe deciding to marry and live the good life when he should have been more cautious about what the life of a looper can do to people.
This notion just reeks of “Primer” with major consequences to risky actions and just all of these loops and their possibilities inflicting upon one another. Johnson also shows big ball swinging by giving edge to Joe’s character; such as when he threatens to destroy all of Old Joe’s memories and his constant drug use. This is a character that can only be likable through a skilled writer and a skilled/charming actor playing the role. In any other hands, the part of Joe can be completely ruined.
Let’s begin to wrap this up because this really isn’t going anywhere other than to me figuring out more ways to claim my love and devotion for the movie. The music should definitely be brought up though. Making the third time the charm, Nathan Johnson shows off his skills once again as a composer. The opening theme to “Looper” with the eerie chimes and deep bass tones really gives me chills and set the tone for the film. Dramatic piano themes combined with industrial music and sounds really give this score such a unique and intriguing sound. Finally, JGL’s makeup was absolutely flawless; by the 20 minute mark I had completely stopped taking notice to it and just let the performance soak me in. Now while some people are naysaying the makeup’s use and practicality, I feel Gordon Levitt’s performance would have been nowhere near as good without it.
All in all “Looper” is an instant sci-fi classic, making “intelligent” films like “Inception” look like a Saturday morning cartoon. JGL’s performance is one for the sci-fi ages as I’m sure this will be this year’s “Drive” and not get its fair due in any form of category (Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Score, Best Director). Not many people can claim there are major plot holes as all time travel rules are opinion based only. Highly recommend this one to all sci-fi lovers, and all fans of these lead actors.
Rian Johnson, just keep on doing what you’re doing.