Check out this great review from SFX with many kind words!
(PS, looks like I graduated from cousin to brother)
SFX five star review
Remember the first time you saw Star Wars, or Back To The Future, or Blade Runner? Films you would absolutely, positively never, ever forget as long as electricity surged round your synapses? Looper is just like that.
It’s the most ambitious, inventive, downright invigorating film you’re likely to see all year. It’s not a remake, reboot or reimagining; neither is it a sequel, prequel, or interquel. It’s original science fiction film-making at its very finest.
Looper’s greatest strength is that it constantly surprises. Think it’s a time travel movie? That’s only the beginning. Expecting good guys to root for and bad guys to chuck your popcorn at? Things are never quite that clear cut. The script relentlessly wrong foots, takes off in unexpected directions and plays with conventions. The less you know going in the better.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Joe Jr, a Looper (hired killer) with no discernable skills beyond the ability to aim in the general direction of a helpless victim and pull the trigger. Loopers kill targets sent back from 33 years in the future, where time travel has been invented, but is outlawed and used only by criminal organizations. Being a Looper is highly lucrative, but so illegal that your final kill – your literal golden payday– is your future self, thus “closing the loop”. Unfortunately for Joe Jr, when his future self, Joe Sr (Bruce Willis), appears on his killing mat he hesitates, allowing Joe Sr to get the drop on him and escape.
For most movies that would be enough to fill 90 dumb, explosion-filled minutes, but in Looper the time travel set-up takes a back seat very early on. Much like The Terminator, time travel is a piece of misdirection – the ignition spark for a story that goes to a very different place. In a way time travel is the film’s weak link. It’s all-too-easy to over-analyse and poke holes, but writer/director Rian Johnson’s achievement is that you don’t care.
It’s one of the first films in years to build a cohesive, instantly compelling world. Forget the glossy facade of a Surrogates, or an I, Robot, Looper’s universe feels lived-in, real. The bulk of the movie takes place in urban and rural Kansas, 2044, with a brief detour to 2077 Shanghai, for a breathtaking fast-forward-30-years montage. What may seem like a barrage of affectations – futuristic blunderbusses, steampunk hoverbikes, eyedropper designer drugs – create a plausible future where riots on the streets are a common sight. Nifty future tech sits comfortably alongside anachronistic, nostalgic throwbacks. The gang that runs the Loopers, masterminded by Jeff Daniels’s ack Mitchell, also hires heavies called Gat Men who wear trenchcoats like ‘30s gangsters and wield six-shooters. The world is remarkably dense; the time Johnson spent conceiving it has paid huge dividends.
Speaking of Johnson, his work is absolutely stunning. He’s always been a filmmaker with a unique sensibility (seek out his first collaboration with Gordon-Levitt, the super-stylised Brick, for proof of that), but here he dazzles. What should be simple shootouts become experiments in unusual ways of moving the camera. Shakycam and rapid cutting are nowhere to be seen. In one of the film’s many, many bravaura moments the camera sticks to Joe Jr as he falls off the side of a building. It’s career-defining stuff.
The performances almost reach that standard too. Gordon-Levitt, who impressed as honest cop John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises, tops that performance easily here, despite acting under an initially distracting prosthetic face-piece. Willis hasn’t been better in an action movie for more than a decade, and Emily Blunt (Sara) completely convinces as a Midwesterner whose tough exterior belies a shaken vulnerability. All three characters are horribly flawed, but none are irredeemable. Your allegiances constantly swing, your sympathies are constantly challenged. Even the smaller characters are tremendous, with Paul Dano’s calamitous Looper Seth, Noah Segan’s determined but incompetent Gat Man Kid Blue and Sara’s son Cid – a rare non-annoying child actor – are particular standouts.
One slightly dubious greenscreen moment aside, the effects work is seamless, incredible even for a mid-budget movie. And the music, by Johnson’s brother Nathan, is exemplary. Rather than standard action movie fare, his sibling took a page out of Star Wars sound guy Ben Burtt’s book, recording real-world sounds and layering them to create rhythmic composites. The effect is atmospheric and vigorously energetic, which gives the infrequent melodic moments an even greater impact. Emotion is not in short supply in Looper, either. It has the power to shock; at one point it tells what is effectively a self-contained short story about a character which will genuinely break your heart.
Of course, it’s not perfect. Like we said, the time travel logic is problematic, and there’s one particularly unlikely coincidence involving a dancing girl that Joe Jr’s acquainted with… but things like that don’t really matter. You need to see Looper. We don’t need a time machine to know that decades from now it will still be fondly remembered.
originally posted by looperstuff
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