Saturday, October 13, 2012

Film Review: Rian Johnson's Looper

Once one gets past the gaping holes in logic - which fairly speaking, tends to be part and parcel for any time travel movie - and the somewhat unnerving make-up and prosthetics used to make the younger Joseph Gordon-Levitt more resemble his older counterpart Bruce Willis, one can enjoy a film that, according to director Rian Johnson, is less about time travel and more about personal interrelation.  Of course one must also get past a rather lackluster script as well.  So once one gets past the gaping holes in logic, the unnerving Willis-esque chin, mouth and nose prosthetics and the rather lackluster script, then one can surely enjoy Rian Johnson's Looper.  But I suppose one must also get past, save for one possible balls-out telekinetic exception, the quite uninspired action sequences as well.  But before this opening paragraph falls too deeply into a Monty Python skit, let's just say one needs to get past quite a lot to enjoy this film, and leave it at that.

Now really, Looper, the director's third film, after his knock-out debut Brick and his somewhat lesser follow-up The Brothers Bloom, isn't as bad as all that.  This sci-fi tale, set mainly in the year 2044, is about a group of assassins called Loopers, who kill people sent back from thirty years in the future by the mob of the future.  Apparently this is due to the unexplained inability to dispose of bodies in the future, but I suppose this is a pretty good way of doing things.  Of course at one point Gordon-Levitt's young buck looper is confronted by his old head self from the future, and Willis must avenge or save or whatever at any and all costs.  The film isn't really all that convoluted - at least as time travel films tend to go - and I believe that is what causes it to drag the way it does.  More intricate installments in the genre, such as Gilliam's 12 Monkeys and Shane Carruth's terrific Primer, or even a more elusive work like this year's Safety Not Guaranteed, tend to have more going for them as the twists and turns get deeper and sometimes actually more surprising.  Here though, we are left wanting.  Wanting for a much better movie.  Wanting for the movie we were all hoping for.  As I said, Looper isn't a bad film per se - definitely not as bad as my opening remarks would have you believe - but it is far from the gem one would have hoped for.

Mainly, one supposes, the saving grace of the film, once one gets past the aforementioned problems of uninspired action sequences, lackluster screenwriting, unnerving prosthetics and gaping holes in logic, is the acting.  Both leads, Gordon-Levitt as Young Joe and Willis as Old Joe, do a fine job counteracting each other.  An especially fun scene is a diner scene between the two that is a bit reminiscent of what Mann did with De Niro and Pacino in Heat.  As for the rest of the cast, Jeff Daniels as a mob boss sent back from the future, Paul Dano as a whiny cocksucker of a looper, Emily Blunt as a shotgun wielding farm girl protecting her wouldbe despot-of-the-future little boy, and Noah Sagen as Kid Blue, the most inept gun man of Daniels' killer crew, we get some pretty fun stuff indeed.  Too bad it is in such an otherwise mediocre film.  One was probably hoping for something smarter and perhaps more akin to 2005's Brick, that other Johnson/Gordon-Levitt collaboration which played out like a slickly wry teenage neo-noir, than what ends up being, even with Primer's writer/director Carruth being involved with the time travel sequences, merely just another time travel movie.  And who needs just that?

3 comments:

Dan O. said...

Good review Kevyn. Everybody’s good, the writing is top-notch, and the direction kept me on the edge of my seat, but there was a human element that just didn’t come around full-circle for me. I really liked this movie, but I didn’t love it and that’s a bit disappointing considering all of the hype.

Kevyn Knox said...

I wanted so much to love this movie, but ended up barely liking it. Ah well.

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