Monday, October 8, 2012

Looper, a long-awaited review

I was supposed to do a write-up for Looper before I went on vacation last week but that didn't pan out. Now I just want to write it and move on to the October movies. So, excuse me while I mostly avoid going into the plot, besides I'd rather keep it a surprise for those who haven't seen it yet.

Looper is the type of original sci-fi fare that we just don't get enough of nowadays. I think back to Source Code to find a sci-fi movie by a young hot-shot director that felt like a refreshing change-of-pace for the genre. Well, Looper surpasses that. Rian Johnson, whose previous films "Brick" and "Brothers Bloom" showcased the filmmaker as a hot new talent. They're both clever, well-made films but perhaps a little bit too clever for their own good. What was refreshing about those films and Looper is how they encompass their own little worlds and the characters speak a language that feels new to us but real to the world they live in.

The moment, for me, when Rian Johnson solidified his status as a great filmmaker was during a montage in Looper where we see Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character Joe gradually age into his older self (played by Bruce Willis). The subtle attention to detail and confident, assured style is what really impressed me about the sequence of events. But what's most thrilling about Looper is how it never shies from having an emotional core. The stakes in the movie are high and you actually care about what happens to these characters. Again, Rian Johnson adds a lot of little clever twists and character quirks but unlike his first two films, he makes it work completely.

It's as if Johnson hit his stride while writing the film and never let up and when Bruce Willis finally picks up a gun and starts wreaking havoc on people, it's awesome to watch. That's another thing: there isn't a bunch of action in Looper but when there is, it's totally worth watching. This is Bruce Willis at his best, Joseph Gordon-Levitt at his best, and thankfully we get a lot of solid performances from Jeff Daniels and Emily Blunt.

As what can always happen with time travel movies, sometimes the logic isn't always as sound as it can be and Rian Johnson can be guilty of throwing a few too many details at us. Overall though, Looper is a fun genre film that works on so many levels and officially it puts Rian Johnson on the map. If Looper is any indication, we could be getting a lot of great films from this guy.

Grade: A-

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