Time waits for no-one. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper.
Looper is the new feature presentation from writer/director Rian Johnson, after his previous high school detective noir Brick and rom-con flick The Brothers Bloom. Certainly a good resume - along with an extremely intriguing short from 1996, Evil Demon Golfball From Hell!! - but it's his 2012 effort that is his Citizen Kane.
The top notch concept; in the year 2072, time travel has been invented and when the mob want to get rid of someone, they send them thirty years into the past, where a Looper - one of whom is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - is ready and waiting with a gun. Well remunerated, the life of a looper is a glamourous and lucrative one. However, Joe's life takes a turn for the worst when his future self (Bruce Willis) materialises in front of him and he hesitates for too long.
This, like any time travelling adventure, is open to a whole mess of plot holes, but thankfully Johnson seems to have filled them all in with his well constructed and complex screenplay. The future world – 2044 is where the majority of the movie takes place – is also very believable, with cities having expanded outwards and upwards convincingly and technology having progressed logically. There are no hover cars or robots in this future world.
Emily Blunt in Looper.
Levitt, backed up by convincing prosthetics, is great as a younger Willis. It is not how Willis looked when he was Levitt’s age, but definitely how he could have looked. He subtlety mimics some of Willis’ mannerisms, without going overboard, all on top of actually playing a difficult role as as a hard edged killer that's also a caring and thoughtful young man. Willis is also very good; playing a character who time travels to encounter his younger self for the third time (Twelve Monkeys, The Kid), he really nails this as a man full of regrets and hoping to atone. Emily Blunt’s turn as Sara shows she can certainly pull off an American accent, holding a gun and swearing without flinching. Her on-screen son, Cid (Pierce Gagnon; One Tree Hill) is pretty exceptional although there is an element of freakiness to him, just for the fact that he looks like the kid version of Orson Welles – not Welles as a kid, but Welles smaller and with a child’s voice – however, there are moments in which he gives expressions that Nicholson’s Jack Torrance would be proud of.
There are some absolutely astounding set pieces and moments within Looper, one of which got a reaction from an audience member which will be hard to recreate in print but can be best described as the word ‘Wow’, only extended so it took her five or six seconds to say it; she was only voicing what everyone else was thinking. One scene, early in the film, is easily one of the most terrifying scenes in cinema history when extreme methods are employed to reign in a rogue future Looper.
The film is full of humour, too, with definite laugh out loud lines and moments, and a lot of them from Levitt and Willis’ interactions that also bring up some very poignant themes. Levitt plays a young man who thinks he is immortal, despite such strong evidence on the contrary, and has no care for the long term consequences of his actions. Meanwhile, Willis is an older man, past middle age, regretting his past and facing the mistakes he made, in disbelieve at how stupid and naive he once was.
There are many words that could be used to describe Looper – clever, funny, poignant, original, unpredictable, wow – but just one word will explain it perfectly: Classic.
Looper will be shown at Broadway from Friday 28 September to Thursday 11 October 2012.