Smell of Popcorn

film reviews & musings by Max Lalanne

Review: Sci-fi actioner Looper won’t exactly blow your mind but it does try

Posted by Max Lalanne on September 28, 2012

A film largely about the choices and decision that one makes, whether they be in one dimension of time or the next, Looper achieves in being a smart and original sci-fi action drama but neve.comr reaches the mind-bending, head-wracking grandeur of Inception, the last film I can remember that successfully played with our collective minds (Source Code tried but failed).There is much difference between the two productions, yes, but writer-director Rian Johnson’s nifty premise has the same deep potential that, in this case, wasn’t exploited to its fullest. But it’s still quite a ride, and one that feels like a welcome breath of fresh air in this year’s lineup of new releases.

What sort of premise is it? The one that sees Joseph Gordon Levitt, in the year 2044, make a living as a “Looper,” a hitman assassinating targets that were sent back from the not-so-far future. Time travel was indeed invented 30 years from now, but now remains only in the hands of the mob. They see this as a fine way to get rid of enemies literally without a trace. Send the target back into the past and he would’ve never existed in the present. Or something like that. Change the past, change the future. But then it appears that the mob wants the loop closed, so to speak, so they send back the older self of Gordon Levitt’s character, played by Bruce Willis, to get killed by his younger self. Because he’s Bruce Willis, he escapes (and later gets to indulge himself in some badass shoot-em-ups that could belong in The Expendables).

There’s many more layers to this story than should be divulged here, but, again, it’s all about the choices. Whose choice then, you may ask, was it to cast Willis as Gordon Levitt’s older self – while the two play off each other excellently, it’s well apparent that much was spent making them, well, resemble one another a little more. No adjustments at all would’ve been preferred (this is the movies) but here Gordon Levitt is saddled with heavily distracting prosthetics that, bizarrely, appear on and off during the duration.

When the two meet in a roadside diner – this film likes combining heady sci-fi concepts in low-fi settings, and the refreshing sensibility is such as well – halfway through to attempt to talk things out, a side view of the two sitting apposite each other reveal, among other things, the obvious trickery at hand that Gordon-Levitt wears to more resemble Willis’ well-known nose and overall visage. You get my point, anyway.

Once the action starts being anchored around the rural, Western-esque farmhouse property owned by tough single mother Sara (Emily Blunt) and her young son (Pierce Gagnon), who may or may not play an important part in the story, Looper stagnates a little in the more middling complexities of the story. It is certainly due to Johnson’s indie roots, but a more sweeping and grand approach to the story would have been ideally preferred while still keeping the finely tuned characters intact.

However, it also works to its advantage, maintaining a distinctively cool, taut and slick vibe that isn’t weighed down by unnecessary visual effects or more typical Hollywoodian temptations. [B+]

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