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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Sept 30: Looper


Sept 30: Looper

"In 2072, 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."
Directed by: Rian Johnson, Rated: R, 118 minutes

In a day and age where everything that comes to theaters is seemingly another remake, reboot, adaptation, or spin-off, original ideas are hard to come by. With Looper, writer/director Rian Johnson gives us something we have never seen before, pushing the limits of our imaginations and our intelligence as a movie-going audience. It's packed full of visual marvels, has one of the most unique stories I've seen, incredible makeup, and has some pretty damn fine acting from its rather small cast. 

The whole thing just reeks of cool. 

In the future, murder has become something of the past, with tracking devices preventing people from killing off one another. So, the mob utilizes time travel when they want to get rid of someone, sending them back 30 years to be knocked off. Loopers, who work in the present time, are then waiting for their targets to be sent back, and kill them immediately after they arrive. Joe (Levitt) is one of the best and does his job without question. However, when he comes face to face with himself from the future (Old Joe, Bruce Willis), he hesitates pulling the trigger and accidentally lets himself go. What then unfolds is a manhunt through the city, as Joe knows if he can't find Old Joe, he'll be dead sooner than later. The events in the big city lead to a quiet farm in the middle of nowhere where a young woman, Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son, Cid (Pierce Gagnon), play a rather important role in the decisions Joe makes in his hunt for himself. 

Oh, and there's a terrific Jeff Daniels that provides a couple of twisted laughs as Abe, the man in charge of the Loopers. 

If the above description sounds confusing, I apologize. Looper is far from confusing, with everything explained quite simply, with very little loose ends left hanging about by its conclusion. Rian Johnson manages to create a script that's not only mind-blowing in it's originality, but it actually makes sense. The twists and turns the film carries out are also quite unexpected, even when you think you know where the movie is heading. It's in this that the film really shines, as something that makes you think, while leaving you vulnerable for a twist, is quite refreshing. 

Give this guy $200 million and let him make whatever he wants with it!

Along with the script, Looper has some of the best makeup work I have ever seen. The filmmakers used practical effects, makeup, and prosthetic work to turn Joseph Gordon-Levitt into a younger Bruce Willis. Along with Levitt's acting, he completely morphs into Willis, and it's easy to believe they're the same person, or at least related. At first, I thought this idea would be very distracting (from what the trailers made you believe), but the final product is flawless. It's remarkable what they are able to do with a bit of makeup and some plastic, and I expect the makeup department to receive some recognition come the Oscars. It's also worth noting that the special effects look great as well, with Johnson painting a "could-be" picture of the future, blending the familiar with ideas we know are on the horizon. It's dark, it's sad, it's plagued by the poor, and the technology is both plausible and futuristic. 

This video doesn't quite do the comparisons justice, but you can get a feel of how good the makeup is. 

Of course, a movie can't be incredible with just a smart script and stylish visuals. The acting in Looper is some of the best of the year, even resurrecting a rather stale Bruce Willis and reminding us that he can still kick ass and actually act. He has a handful of heart-wrenching scenes that could easily be dismissed with poor acting, but Willis does a fine job in them and really impresses. As mentioned, Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job as Joe, bringing his usual charisma and likability to a character who does a lot of dirty work. Emily Blunt also delivers a great performance as the tough "because she has to be", Sara. She's alone on a farm, with just her son, and is strong enough to be believable as a young woman doing it all on her own. And she's sexy, even when she's made to look more "plain". But, the star of the show is the young Pierce Gagnon. This kid gives us some of the best acting I have ever (and I mean ever) seen in someone his age, and he proves to be much smarter than his youth would make you believe. 

This kid CAN act!

Looper is one of the best movies of the year and one of the smartest films to come out in the last decade or so. With an intelligent script that leaves you guessing, great visuals and even better acting, the movie fully delivers. I had this flick on my list of films I could not wait to see, and had actually managed to avoid as much information about it to stay away from spoilers. What I can say is that the few trailers I did see gave absolutely nothing away about the story, and I have to give a tip of the hat to the marketers behind it. There's much, much more at the heart of the story than just your run-of-the-mill action movie, and seeing it all play out is so much fun. Do yourself a favor and reward yourself with Looper. You won't be disappointed. I cannot wait to see what Rian Johnson does next. 

The Good:
great makeup work and visuals that feel like nothing you've seen, and manage to turn something that could have been campy and distracting, into a work of art
The Better:
marvelous performances but a stellar cast, and an introduction to a young talent that has quite the future for himself
The Best:
a great story about time-traveling that doesn't feel too confusing, and manages to deliver something smart

Overall: 9.5/10


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At September 30, 2012 at 7:11 PM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

I really liked this film. I waited to read anything about it until after I saw it. Most of your comments reflect the same attitude I have about it so clearly your review is a superior piece of analysis that everyone should read.

I liked that I could not figure the movie out in the first five minutes and that the changes in tone and sympathy for the characters were a result of revelations rather than twists. It is really original.

At October 1, 2012 at 6:34 AM , Blogger R.Hamilton said...

I'm beginning to think I'm crazy to be honest because after reading countless positive reviews of Looper I think that I am the only one who didn't think it was all that good. I've just written a review of it myself which I wrote before I read everyone else's and I was shocked when I saw how much praise it was getting! I really don't get why people think it's so great. I will agree that the acting was pretty good (especially in the case of that kid) but Willis was as wooden as Pinnochio and the time travel aspect is probably the most flawed portrayal of time travel I have ever seen in a film. I don't know how everyone else doesn't see this! *Spoiler alert from here on* And the whole telekinesis thing is a total cop out at the end. They mention it like once at the start of the film. It's just silly! Am I mad? Before you condemn me, take a look at my review

At October 1, 2012 at 10:03 AM , Blogger Nick said...

They mention TK throughout the film, showing Sara, Seth, and everything. I can understand why some people might not like it, but I think the original idea at the heart of it makes it as good as it is. While I do disagree with you (respectfully lol) I'd suggest giving it another shot on DVD. I think there's a lot to take in with one watch and I know I'm eagerly anticipating special features and what not.

At October 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM , Blogger Nick said...

I'm glad you liked it too. I checked out your review and agree with a lot of what you said. Glad to see we're on the same page again.

At October 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM , Blogger Sati. said...

Awesome review! Woah, 9,5/10! I keep reading about this unpredictable and fresh storyline, but as I read reviews I already have few theories, I wonder if I'm going to be right :) I really liked Willis in Moonrise Kingdom, glad he is good in this one too.

At October 1, 2012 at 11:52 AM , Blogger Ben Hayward said...

Yo Nick.

I can't disagree with any of your review. Some will like the TK plotline, others won't. I thought it was a tale of two films. I wanted the looper stuff to be explored further. Noah Segan's character was too interesting to leave open-ended. Why was he trusted so much if he was such an idiot? Was he actually Jeff Daniels 30-years previous?

I found much to appreciate about the acting, set design and overall creativity so I let the dodgy plot elements slide. I can see why R Hamilton feels like they do.

Here's my review, which is a mixture of yours and R Hamilton's:

At October 1, 2012 at 5:20 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah, I gave it a high score lol. I really don't think you can predict it, but I'd love to see if you're right!

At October 2, 2012 at 12:58 PM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

Glad to here someone who is thinking along my lines, I would have enjoyed this on a surface level (a bit like Total Recall remake) but it is trying to be a lot more "intelligent" but it isn't and for someone like me I cant forgive how bad and messy the time travel is, I wont spoil it but its completely nonsensical.

At October 2, 2012 at 1:00 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah, there's a bit to question here and there, but I think that's a part of the mystery. I think it was hinted at very, very slightly that Segan (Kid Blue) was Abe as a younger self, otherwise why would he be allowed to be around so long being so incompetent? I'll stop by and check out your review.

At October 2, 2012 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Nick said...

I'll check out your review. But I have to disagree with you on most of that lol. I think it was one of Bruce Willis' best performances. And sure, time travel is flawed, but when is it not?

@Mavi I think the film is very intelligent, especially in its unique script and idea.

At October 2, 2012 at 1:04 PM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

"Looper is one of the best movies of the year and one of the smartest films to come out in the last decade or so. With an intelligent script that leaves you guessing, great visuals and even better acting, the movie fully delivers."

sry Katz but I have to take issue with this " smartest films" really? what is smart about it the "Time Travel"? The Story? I tell you what I think is smart his managing of money because 30mill for what we see on screen is pretty good.

I don't really want to spoil it on your thread but my issue with the whole Thing is the time travel aspect makes no sense what so ever.

So I reviewed it and Spoiled it!!

At October 2, 2012 at 1:07 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Agree to disagree lol.

At October 11, 2012 at 4:17 PM , Blogger Ries said...

Just got back from Looper, and I've gotta say - this was the real deal. What a fantastic movie. I would've pegged it upwards of 9 out of 10. The story, the acting, the effects, the messages and the tone...everything was spot on. I loved that it navigated being really violent and really depressing with equal enthusiasm. There was a real heart to this film. Great review, too. :)

At October 11, 2012 at 7:03 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, glad you finally saw it (and agree with me lol). I'm sure we'll talk about it soon!


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