It’s the year of Joseph Gordon- Levitt. That is the only thing I can say about the case. The young actor made a name for himself in 2010’s Inception and since then has delivered Oscar worthy work in last year’s 50/50. But the freshly rising actor isn’t making a stop with one movie per year. The year is 2012 and he has four films being released in one year. He has played a hyper stylized bike messenger, the successor of Batman, and later this year he will be playing a family member of Abraham Lincoln. But for now, he settles playing a young Bruce Willis. Yes, the Bruce Willis. This kid has some balls. Thankfully, it all works out in Looper, a sci-fi adventure about time travel that delivers on more levels than you may expect.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, (Brick, also starring Levitt), Looper is set in a futuristic world in which time travel, like today, doesn’t exist. However, 30 years in the future, it will, and will be deemed too dangerous for use and be outlawed. The invention, 30 years from the future, is used mostly by major criminal organizations and if they need to get rid of someone they simply send him/her back thirty years where a “looper,” or a hired assassin, is waiting to kill them and dispose of the body to make sure the person technically never existed. However, when Joe’s (Gordon Levitt) loop (Willis) is delivered to him, he realizes it is actually himself in thirty years, and, having accidentally letting him escape, pursues him on a chase that takes you in its grasp and never releases the grip. Being one of my most anticipated films of the year, Looper had my attention from its announcement. So much hype can be a good thing or a bad thing for the final outcome. However, once this film began, it never ceased to be entertaining and it is undeniably one of the coolest movies of the year.
Joseph Gordon- Levitt gives his best performance of this year by far, and even though the make-up (which I will discuss later in the review) was spot on for a young Bruce Willis, it is evident that Levitt tried his hardest to portray Willis and he is phenomenal. Never a dull spot being in his performance, Levitt is an absolute knockout. Bruce Willis is terrific as always, also offering a nonstop breakneck performance as older Joe. Emily Blunt offers some surprising good work as a mess-with-me-and-I-will-mess-you-up type of character and Jeff Daniels is a ferociously appealing force on screen. Perhaps the biggest surprise in Looper is Cid, a young boy who has a major role in the film that I won’t spoil. Cid is played by Peirce Gagnon who is, simply put, mesmerizing. I don’t remember the last time I saw a child actor that I was drawn to so much. Gagnon does outstanding, sometimes disturbing (see the movie and you will understand) work. There are some very good and often shocking images in Looper that were entirely unexpected, and even though I won’t spoil them, I will say they definitely determine the R rating for this film. That point leads up to this one, which is actually the best aspect of the film: the writing/directing. Rian Johnson has covered high school in Brick (2005) and a con-man in The Brothers Bloom (2009), and now he covers time-travel, and does so effectively. Where this movie could have fallen, and would have fallen if succumbed to modern day sci-fi films, is the ending. Most modern sci-fi films try to wrap up on such a high note and make the audience feel good; however, all credit to Johnson’s mind bending screenplay, Looper concludes on an authentic note. One that makes you say, “Yes. This is the way movies like this should end.” Thank you, Rian Johnson, for respecting us, the audience. The make-up cooridinator did an astounding job in making Joseph Gordon- Levitt look like a young Bruce Willis. Unlike last year’s terrible make-up on Armie Hammer in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, Looper succeeds in completely convincing the audience that you are not in fact watching Joseph Gordon- Levitt; you are actually watching Bruce Willis thirty years ago. Everything about the set up for this movie fantastic.
Whether you have been anticipating Looper for a long time or you just randomly stumbled upon it is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that Looper is one of the best movies of 2012; a brilliantly acted, intelligently written, majestically conceived mind-bender of a movie.
Run Time: 118 mins
Rated: R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity, and drug content
Starring: Joseph Gordon- Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, and Piper Perabo
Director(s): Rian Johnson