Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Bard Reviews: Looper (DVD)

Film description: In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented - but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past where a 'looper' - a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good - until the day the mob decides to 'close the loop,' sending back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination. The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and also stars Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels.

Looper is a rare film that tries to do more than just entertain with a slick premise and pointless action. (Like that awful Total Recall remake) This is science fiction, which is supposed to make you think as well as entertain you.

I'll start off by saying that it was refreshing to see Bruce Willis in a movie where he's not just cashing a check on his Die Hard persona. I haven't enjoyed a performance from him since Twelve Monkeys, which certain aspects of the film give just a slight nod to.

Joseph Gordan-Levitt proves once again that he's capable of lead man status with his multi-layered performance as a dead man walking who gets the wake up call of his life while literally facing his own future.

They dystopian version of the future was realistic and veers away from the constant Blade Runner knock offs that we've seen time and again in sci fi films. The darkness in this future isn't in endless scenes of darkness and rain, it's in the souls of its inhabitants.

The only thing that I'd knock is that the story tries to encompass too many themes at once, which isn't such a bad thing when you compare it to the trivial plots of so called films that are being produced right now. Time travel and meeting one's future self is quite a load, however, and would have been perfectly sufficient without the additional moral quandary of whether it's acceptable to kill someone before they have a chance to become the worst type of person.

Still, the beauty of the story is that it manages to juggle all of its themes without dropping the ball. The characters are fresh, the acting superb, and the movie ends cleanly, wrapping up the time travel paradoxes with a single act.

The only thing I regret is not seeing this sooner. Four out of five stars.

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