Looper (2012)

Rates: * * * 1/2

Why Did I Watch It? Have been revisting Rian Johnson’s earlier films.

Cast, crew, etc.

Trailer

In the near future, criminals from the far future dispatch their enemies via time travel, sending them back to be killed by ‘Loopers’; assassins whose own destiny is to be sent back and killed themselves. Meanwhile they get paid in silver and live it up. But then one Looper spoils the party by letting his own future self slip away.

Rian Johnson’s genre bending time travel-gangster-crime-sci fi amalgamation has enough plot for five movies, and that’s before the final act, where it adds a hokey horror riff straight out of a John Carpenter film. That most of this works, and fits together, is a tribute to the writer/director’s skill, and familiarity with all these different archetypes. But it is a LOT of movie.

And by the time the creepy kid with the mental powers joins the fray, I am starting to get a little restless. Just to be clear: this section itself is great, with a steely performance from Emily Blunt (then still an up and comer) and nifty special effects. But for me, it is finally one thing too many.

The other thing that stands out on re-watch is the strangeness of JGL’s performance, which is effectively a physical impersonation of Bruce Willis. Levitt is a good actor and he is clearly all in, but he looks and sounds strange, and his overly square jaw and half open mouth are distracting. Watching the two actors face off across a restaurant dining table is to feel slightly unnerved. Willis himself is good in his understated way, although a glance at his filmography reveals this was pretty much his last decent performance; in the near decade since, he has made a few dismal sequels in Hollywood, and a lot of nutty sounding action films in China.

For all of that: a lot of fun.

Johnson doubles down on the paradoxes inherant in time travel stories, and sends his characters chasing after each other through overlapping timelines. I especially like the messages they send to each other via scars, and the gruesome surgical fate that awaits anyone who crosses the rulers of the future. This all plays kinda like ‘Primer’ with guns, which is as cool as it sounds.

Johnson was on his way by this stage. With this and ‘Brick’ behind him, he had established himself as one of the world’s most exciting young filmmakers, and even better was to come.

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