Thursday, October 11, 2012

Looper

By Sati. Thursday, October 11, 2012 , , , , , , , ,

Rian Johnson's Looper is one of those movies that are destined to be a future cult classic.It's not one of those films with gigantic budgets, directed by famous directors self proclaiming it as something amazing, as if the movie was the same caliber as the second coming of Christ would be. Like last year's Drive, Looper is the brainchild of clever indie director and a true labor of love. Driven by terrific story and strong performances, Looper is one of the best science fiction movies in recent years.

To summarize the plot would be an exercise of futility - basically it comes down to this - it's 2044 and our protagonist is Joe who is the titular Looper. Loopers are killers who are getting rid of people sent to them from the future. They have exact place and time given to them and all they have to do is to kill the target (always dressed the same and with a bag over his head), collect their payment and get rid of the body. Why is that necessary? Because 30 years later whenever someone dies, authorities know about immediately after the deed is done, so it's pretty damn hard to take care of the problem on your own.
Joe is living his life, spending a lot of time being high and selfish as young people often do. He is also planning an escape route - saving up some of the silver that isn't his and learning French so he can move abroad. But it all goes to hell when the target send to Joe to kill is himself....from the future. His older self escapes and when they finally meet to talk (in a scene that is destined to remind everyone of the conversation scene from Heat) older Joe explains that there is a terrorist in the future, called The Rainmaker, who in addition to slowly taking over the world has also been sending loopers back in time to "close the loop" - kill them and erase them from existence. Older Joe wants to stop him, younger Joe just wants his life back.

That craziness I described is only part of the plot - there are many people and story arcs in the film, including Paul Dano's Seth, Joe's friend and another Looper, the character whose plot, incidentally,  ends in the creepiest way I saw all year, and Sara and her son Cid - young Joe will seek shelter on their farm. Sara and especially Cid will turn out to be much bigger part of the game later on in the movie. The character of Sara adds a lot of mystery to the film, especially since she seemingly enigmatically knows who Loopers are and her son Cid....well at times it's like your own private Damien from The Omen minus the babysitter to help you out.
There are so many great things about this movie - first there is the story which is filled with twists and turns and that clever premise that fucks with your mind throughout the whole film - who is the older version of someone? What if someone is this person's father sent from the future? What if this character grows up to be that character? And since there are many tiny details, scattered everywhere in the movie and sometimes a single line of dialogue needs dissecting, the film is something you will be thinking of for hours, hell, maybe even days after seeing it - it took me 2 hours just to make sense out of Joe's comment about Rainmaker's prosthetic jaw, for crying out loud!

Also that is one ballsy movie. You have gruesome and disturbing torture scene. You have Bruce Willis stalking and killing kids. You have young child getting shot. You have a mother who is terrified of her kid. That is not something that is often seen in a movie that may as well been released in summer with blockbusters, since the trailers made it look like your typical fuck-all action film. Looper will keep you guessing, thinking and figuring stuff for yourself. And it leaves many things up to interpretation, throws in a lot of suggestions and it asks you questions only hinting at what the answers may be.
I'd probably give this movie 9, but since I spent the whole night on the darkest corners of imdb board for this movie and I still don't have everything figured out, it deserves the highest note. The film is like a labyrinth, just when I thought I got it, I thought of something that made more sense. What certain people, as with Prometheus case, would probably dismiss as the plot hole made by writers I consider to be lack of imagination on audience's part. Also I adore all the comments about how silly telekinesis was in the movie. It's a film about time travel, but when telekinesis appears, people start playing logic police? Really?

As a time travel movie Looper has the same issue as every other time travel movie - the "if you change the past then future will be different for everyone" paradox. There is one moment in the movie where in a matter of maybe 5 minutes we see two outcomes of the same situation. The thing is that if you don't see the first outcome, second outcome won't happen. It's a loop. It's a paradox. Show me one logical movie about time travel where you don't go "hey, but but it shouldn't be happening since THAT happened!" and I'll show you Idris Elba, naked, waiting to have sex with me in my room. Do you see the problem? Those two things don't exist. The explanations here are the same as always - multiple universes, different timelines or what have you. But that's why despite this fundamental problem time travel films are still being made - they are just too damn fun to watch and dissect.

The film has terrific universe - take out time travel and telekinesis and I can easily see all of this going on in 32 years The surroundings are only slightly altered and there are different gadgets which appear to be quite possible - such as flying motorcycles or drugs you apply with eye dropper - maybe it's going on already? It's also beautifully shot and the CGI is quite subtle (except for the movie's finale), it never looks fake or impossible but it still manages to impress you. All of that is aided by terrific soundtrack and honestly, the best editing this year - there is fantastic 30-year montage going on, but throughout the movie there are quick cuts that help us feel as if we are in the center of the events along with the characters as we see many things they see too.

Lots have been said about Joseph Gordon Levitt's make up in the film - he spend few hours every day in the chair while they did God knows what to him so he would look more like Bruce Willis. Initially I thought it was unnecessary but after the film was over I have to say that the make up really helped me buy the fact that they are the same person, especially since Levitt, who while shooting spend a lot of time with Willis observing him, adapted a lot of his mannerisms. It's really hard to see the sweet boy from 500 Days of Summer under all of this.
Levitt is doing great job here, being much different than in his recent roles - this guy is probably one of the most easily likable actors on the planet yet his character here is quite self absorbed and weak so it's tough to sympathize with him. Levitt makes it all so convincing and he has great on-screen chemistry with Willis who is just on fire this year - both his work in Looper and Moonrise Kingdom is some of the best he ever did. There are many impressive moments in Looper where Willis gets to show he is much more than action star, though he has some bad ass moments here too.

The supporting cast is equally impressive - we have always under appreciated Jeff Daniels as Joe's boss - Abe, who came from the future and recruits loopers - and lovely Emily Blunt who after years of wasting her talent away and playing different versions of the same lovable girl in boring and forgettable romantic comedies finally has something to do. Blunt's Sara is the soul of the movie - she is not perfect and she made mistakes in the past but she was willing to change her life completely to make sure her child  is safe. This is Blunt's best work since The Young Victoria and I'm hoping she will continue to deliver more performances as good as this one in films this great.
But the true highlight and the show stealer is Pierce Gagnon. That kid was 5 years old when they were making this film. FIVE! His performance is absolutely outstanding and puts, for example, Haley Joel Osment's Oscar nominated work in The Sixth Sense to shame. It's just amazing how well that child played his character and the character of Cid is crucial in the movie - he may or may not become a dangerous terrorist in the future and he is very scary and disturbing at times, but every time he started to cry and called out for his "mommy" I teared up.

The fact the large portion of the movie deals with the possibility of killing small child because of who he may become in the future is highly disturbing. There is tons of dark stuff in Looper and that's one of the things that makes the movie so unique - you hardly see directors and writers having actual balls to go where nowhere else dares in the world of films being carefully trimmed so they would get PG-13 rating. Looper is rated R and it shows, and not in nudity, not in violence or swearing - in the aspects of the story which are truly dark and unsettling at times.
Take what happened to Seth - what if they won't kill him? What if they will actually keep him alive in that state only to send him back in 30 years time to preserve the loop? How sick is that? Or what happened to little Cid when he was 2 years old - he saw his aunt, the woman who he thought was his mother literally explode and turn into bloody pulp. This is all very, very distressing. And that's the stuff I was left thinking about after the movie - there are plenty of disturbing moments that you see in the film - things like child covered in blood, husband witnessing his wife being shot to death and people killing each other in the street for no reason.

Looper is like a breath of fresh air - not only does it bring excellent story with it but the execution of it is marvelous to witness. Every single line of dialogue is necessary and I loved the fact that the director leaves things for us to figure out instead of packing the movie with tons of tiresome exposition dialogue. The film is very engaging and it's one of those movies that you will come back to, not only because it's great but also to see if you missed something the first time around.

Looper (2012, 118 min)
Plot: In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by transporting back Joe's future self.
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt

40 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed the film so much. The only thing more impressive than your review, are the astonishing pictures you've found and put together.

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    1. I was quite surprised since it wasn't evne in my top 10 anticipated so my expectations weren't crazy high which was cool :)

      Thank you! It was pretty hard since all the TV spots and trailers used same footage which was smart I don't think we saw Cid's face in any of those.

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  2. Great review. I didn't like the film as much as you, but it was still highly enjoyable.

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  3. Thanks for the heads up miss Sati.

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    1. You should definetly check out this movie, it's really very good and shows sci-fi isn't dead yet.

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  4. Yay! Great review Sati and glad we're on agreement with this one. It's bound to be a cult fave I think, and yeah, JGL adapted a lot of Willis' mannerisms, it's uncanny! I also think Blunt was excellent here, she is really coming into her own as an actress. She was sublime in The Young Victoria, though I didn't really like her in Adjustment Bureau.

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    1. Thank you! I did enjoy her in Adjustment Bureau - the romance between her and Damon was quite convincing, which was probably the only redeemable aspect of the movie :) But she was so much better in The Young Victoria and in this one!

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  5. Oh, no. You drank the Kool-Aid! But you might say the same thing about my rave of Pitch Perfect if you see it. ;)

    For me, the film stalled once JGL's Joe arrived at the farm. I liked how everything fit together, and that it was an well-told, different story. But something just felt off to me.

    I thought Blunt was good in her role, but I actually prefer her performance in The Adjustment Bureau.

    Love the pics, and great review!

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    1. I really, really love sci-fi and movies that force me to think about them for hours :)

      I see this is a frequent complaint, but I don't know - I liked the change of scenery and how the film focused the intrigue on the farm.

      Thank you!

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  6. Really terrific review. There's quite a few things which I haven't tied up yet, but that lives in the realm of time travel, which is the most confusing non-existent invention ever. Glad you dug Emily Blunt's work so much - I thought she was brilliant. She is so talented, but she hasn't been too much about that of late. Hopefully this means that she's turned over a new leaf in her career. And Pierce Gagnon was fantastic!

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    1. Thank you! Time travel is one of the most complex things I've seen in movies, I really loved how Johnson managed not to get into one-way street here and totally ignored the possibility of this happening by making the characters say stuff like "let's not talk about time travel".

      Blunt really needs to be in more good movies, she is such a great actress!

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  7. Great, in depth write-up here Sati. I'm a sucker for the old time travel material and this sounds like it's right up my street.

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    1. Thank you! It's really one of the best time travel films I've seen, I think you'll like it!

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  8. Good review Sati. Not as perfect as I wanted it to be, but still, a very exciting and interesting piece of sci-fi that really grabs you from the start. Hopefully Johnson continues to pull-out more work like this and stays far away from work like The Brothers Bloom. Yikes!

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    1. Thanks! I haven't seen The Brothers Bloom yet, but I gather I'm not missing much :)

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  9. I completely agree with you about the universe being believable. This could have easily been CGI or action heavy. Instead Rian Johnson focused on story and characters. One of my favorites of the year so far...

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    1. Glad you agree! I was so happy that they only made few changes to what surrounds us nowadays, the film really felt like a small, character-driven indie in many scenes too!

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  10. Wow you loved this movie as much as I did! I just love time travel movie so much (even the average/mediocre ones) so getting ones that's actually really good in all aspects is such a treat. I agree Gordon-Levitt and Blunt were really impressive, two young actors to watch out for in the years to come :D

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    1. Glad you loved it too! i like time travel movies because they always force you to figure out stuff for yourself. JGL and Blunt - hopefully they have bright future ahead!

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  11. Very cool review Sati. You made me want to go see this again. I agree that it is a visually stunning film and highly original. That is why it's not number one. People don't like to be challenged anymore

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    1. Thank you! I can't believe it's not number one, if it wasn't R rated it probably would be because of all those girls that are hot for Levitt :)

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  12. Wonderful review! (Of course, that was to be expected.) Glad we're on the same page. :-)

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    1. Thank you! Glad to see so many bloggers liked this movie!

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  13. "hey, but but it shouldn't be happening since THAT happened!" and I'll show you Idris Elba, naked, waiting to have sex with me in my room." - Just perfection!

    Glad I got to see Looper otherwise I wouldn't have read the review as it was just fresh in our minds. I have to say that reading your review I feel like i left out SO MANY things I wanted to say in my review despite the fact that it was quite long itself. An amazing movie can produce hundreds or reviews all different at their core. I didn't for instance even try to explain the plot like you did.
    I do have a question that might start up a longer discussion: "closing the loop" - it does seem like a paradox itself doesn't it? Because even if you do kill your future self you live 30 years and then get sent back to your past self again? Damn, just endless looping going on right now in my head.
    Lovely review, my favorite of the year, all the awards and all the praise!
    Plus: Just when I thought Bruce Willis couldn't get any better, he shows my angst and pain in the scene after he killed the boy - man, he deserves much more than Die Hard sequels.

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    1. Yeah, I kinda wish someone would point out logical time travel movie to me, so that I'd have hope....:)

      I love movies that inspire me to write so much about them. That one was definetly it and it had so much going on storywise it's very easy to omit something!

      Yep, they showed that in that crazy montage, young self kills his own older self and then young self lives 30 years being well aware it's just that = 30 years and that's it. Since it only deals with one person the paradox here was rather elegantly explained.

      Thank you!

      That was a terrific scene, one that confused me to - if I remember corectly they showed a clip of him and his wife, wasn't there a baby crying in the background?

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    2. There was, I guess it was a neighbor's kid or something but it represented their own desire to have a kid. I do think it had a lot of those small details that could be easily missed by a regular viewer and Looper needs people like us to appreciate its subtle nuances.

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    3. Exactly, I can't wait to see it again, I'm certain I missed a lot of things. Every line and scene in the movie seemed to have a purpose, it was so well written!

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    4. See it again? Hell yeah! I'm just disappointed that the ticket here in Sweden costs 12€, if it were 3€ like in Estonia, I would go to the cinema again!

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    5. Damn, that's pricy! I'm savig up to see Seven Psychopaths and The Master so it's gonna be some time before I see Looper again :(

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    6. The Master is on my list for sure if I get somebody to come with me this time. Or I'll just go alone, depends. I have lots of plans for November so I'm not sure if I can spend 12€ next month...

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    7. I'm probably going to end up seeing The Master alone since none of my friends are into Anderson's movies. Seven Psychopaths will make it easier to find company :)

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  14. Really like Rian Johnson's past work so I can't wait to check this new one out. So glad it is living up to expectation. Excellent review...interesting, enjoyable read.

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    1. I think you're going to like it! I was blown away by how great the film was.

      Thank you so much!

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  15. I am itching to rewatch this film again. I wish they had more footage of Willis as gangster in Shanghai that montage was my favorite part of the film. sweet write up Sati

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    1. That montage was terrific, so well made. I love how there was no talking in it, just images.

      Thank you!

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  16. Yes, yes and yes. On everything. Especially Paul Dano's Seth's death. Now that was dark. So well done, but so damn dark!

    LOVED Looper. Definitely among my favourite of the year. Unique, talent filled, engaging and thoughtful film.

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    1. It was really disturbing and so messed up!

      Absolutely, I think it's my number 2 of the year so far. Really terrific film.

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  17. Really glad you loved it, Sati. Great review as always :)

    I'm not really sure what to think of it yet, still processing. I'm pretty sure I really liked it, but I wanted to love it.

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    1. Thank you! The story is quite intricate, it's one of those movies that stays with you so I'm not surprised, I still think about it trying to figure out everything :)

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