Movie Review: Looper [2012]

Looper [2012]

Looper [2012]
Director: Rian Johnson
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels
Runtime: 118 minutes

After 2005’s criminally overlooked Brick, it’s great to see director/writer Rian Johnson and lead star Joseph Gordon-Levitt collaborating once again. This time around, with a clever time travel sci-fi premise and a bigger budget, the results are even more impressive.

Looper takes place primarily in the not-so-distant year of 2044, with the focus being on a group of assassins known as “loopers.” Their job is to wait in a cornfield for their victims to be sent back to them from the future (2074), blindfolded, where the loopers promptly shoot them and collect their rewards. It’s a relatively easy job, but their one rule is to never let anyone escape, even if that means their future selves.

Looper [2012]

That’s exactly what happens to Joe Simmons (Gordon-Levitt). When presented with the prospect of killing his future self (played by Bruce Willis), Simmons hesitates, and as a result his target gets away. Now on the run from the mafia, Joe has to hunt down himself in order to complete his job. The plot gets a bit convoluted from there, adding in some romance with a single mother, Sara (Emily Blunt), and a mission to kill the future Rainmaker, a crime lord who is wiping out the loopers one-by-one. There’s a lot to digest, especially since time travel is involved.

Multiple viewings are definitely going to be helpful in analyzing and understanding Looper‘s multiple layers, but this is still a film that can be appreciated on its surface. For one, time travel is just one aspect of the film, and it is not the primary focus. This is more about the struggles of a particular character (Joe), in which time travel just so happens to have caused the conflict. Now, there are potential discrepancies with the time travel logic in the film (as expected with this subject matter), but for the most part, it works.

Looper [2012]

When I heard that Gordon-Levitt and Willis would be playing the same character, I had to do a double-take. The two really look nothing alike in reality, but thanks to the wonders of Hollywood makeup, the resemblance between the two in Looper is uncanny. Both stars deliver strong performances to boot, with the centerpiece of the film being an especially entertaining diner conversation between the two. Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels also excel in their supporting roles, each integral to the film’s development.

In the end, Looper is a rather intelligent film that is both fresh and entertaining. There is a lot to take in, but it’s a fun ride, and it makes for one of this year’s more enjoyable experiences.


34 thoughts on “Movie Review: Looper [2012]

  1. Fogs' Movie Reviews says:

    Nice. I agree!

    I do think that multiple viewings that start to look at the time travel element more closely is only going to wind up confusing the issue though. LOL. Its probably just best seen as an entertaining plot device not to be scrutinized too carefully. 😀

    • Eric says:

      I think you’re right on that, Fogs. It’s like Bruce Willis’ character said:

      “I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.”

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Great review Eric. By no means is it a perfect flick, but it’s one that’s expertly-written and kept me glued to the screen from start to finish. I feel like I got it the first time around, but watching it again actually did some justice for me and I picked up on things I didn’t expect to in the first-place.

  3. Mark Walker says:

    In order for me to catch this in cinemas I’m going to have to travel back in time to do so. Haven’t had a chance to get to the flicks recently. Really want to it though. Good review Eric.

    • Eric says:

      Ah, bummer to hear you haven’t made it to the cinema lately, Mark. I have been going less than usual, but was fortunate enough to see two over the weekend. Looper will be worth the wait, though!

  4. tranquilspace says:

    I’m looking forward to this one. JGL has shone in everything I’ve seen him in recently – definitely an actor I think we’ll see some pretty good work from in the coming years.

  5. jsicktheslick says:

    Sounds pretty dang awesome to me! I am a total sucker for time travel plots, so this one had me from the beginning. Still haven’t seen it thigh, but it’ll be a must see on my Netflix soon.

  6. sati says:

    Really loved the movie, it was very engaging and it kept me guessing the whole time. All actors were fantastic and the film was really beautifully executed, it felt more like character driven indie than sci-fi film.

    • Eric says:

      Glad to hear you enjoyed this as well, Sati, and I especially agree with your last statement. Loved that the film didn’t entirely dwell on the time travel concept.

  7. Andrew says:

    If you’ve read A Constant Visual Feast or Go, See, Talk!, you know quite well by now that I loved this movie. Rather than really get into it, I’ll just say that it’s richly layered and filled with great ideas that connect to the plot and resonate within it exceptionally well; whether you think it’s about answering the age-old question of whether you’d kill Hitler as a child if you could go back in time, or about growing up and accepting personal responsibility and finding something in life worth fighting for, or about cycles of violence, there’s a lot to mull over after just one viewing.

    • Eric says:

      Hi Andrew, I’ll have to take a look at your review. I do like your analysis here. There’s a lot to digest in Looper, and I think multiple viewings will definitely be rewarding. I’m looking forward to catching it again once it hits DVD.

  8. chengboiser says:

    just saw it yesterday,and has to agree your rating. Loved the story, and there was a bit of a confusion for a minute or two on whether he killed himself on the first run, But still, the plot itself is a breath of fresh air to the usual action films we have these days. hmm speaking of which, I cant actually pinpoint a specific genre for this film.. its very intelligent to be just an action film.

    • Eric says:

      I think it’s easiest to lump this in as sci-fi since it involves time travel, but it definitely has action elements as well. But you’re absolutely right about this being a breath of fresh air. Glad you enjoyed this as much as I did!

  9. kimberlyviv says:

    I completely agree with you on this review of Looper! Finally, someone who sees it the way I saw it. Many people who saw it for the first time said it was crap, and I couldn’t believe it. My instinct was right, I soon realized, when I went to watch it anyway. I’m glad I did because, as you said, it was one of the more enjoyable movie experiences of the year. But when I went back to the people who originally told me NOT to watch it, they couldn’t believe that I actually enjoyed it and thought it was a well done film. I’m definitely showing this review to them, because you’ve said everything I was thinking about this movie, I just didn’t know how to word it as great as you did. Thanks!

    • Eric says:

      Hi Kimberly, thanks for the very kind words! I’m shocked that you were told to avoid seeing Looper. Pretty much everyone I have talked to has really enjoyed it, with most rating it even higher than I did! I’m glad you went with your gut instinct and sought this out, and — even better yet — that you enjoyed it!

  10. kimberlyviv says:

    Reblogged this on Through My Eyes and commented:
    When people told me that this movie was crap and warned me not to watch it, I couldn’t believe it. First off, Joseph Gordon-Levitt never chooses bad films to be a part of, and secondly, the trailer looked really intriguing. I went with my gut instincts, and decided to watch the movie anyway. And ended up loving it. This great film review says everything I wanted to tell the people who told me NOT to watch it… maybe they just need to watch it a few more times.

  11. bbbgtoby says:

    Eric. I didn’t love this movie. I might be one of those people that say don’t bother in fact. The acting was almost universally great (my intense dislike for Emily Blunt aside) which saved it from DKR levels of disappointment. I was totally in to the opening setion, seeing Dano and JGL share a screen was very exciting – we could be looking at that fabled De Niro/Pacino pairing for the future with these guys – but things just seemed to go downhill when the whole Emily Blunt thing started happening. The movie was entertaining without it but, for me at least, a mess with it.

    • Eric says:

      Hey Toby, I can see where you’re coming from. The movie’s pacing changed quite a bit once Emily Blunt entered the picture. I still found that segment to be compelling, but I can understand how others might not enjoy it as much. Definitely agree with you on JGL/Dano, though. They were a lot of fun to watch together. I wouldn’t quite go so far as to call them the next Pacino/De Niro, but I would love to see them work together again.

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