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.

8/10

Movie Project #2: Back to the Future [1985, Zemeckis]

Back to the Future [1985, Zemeckis]

Back to the Future [1985]
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Genre: Adventure/Family/Sci-Fi
Language: English
Country: USA

Out of all of the movies I haven’t seen, I caught the most flack for missing out on Back to the Future. I had seen bits and pieces of it over the years and remembered a few select scenes (such as Marty McFly rocking out at his parents’ prom), but I never actually watched the entire movie in one sitting. Thanks to a dirt cheap Amazon deal, I now have the entire trilogy on Blu-ray. No longer do I have any excuses for missing out on this classic time travel flick.

Going into the movie, I was expecting a light-hearted and fun family feature. This is what I received, but I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed it all. Back to the Future is charming, inspirational and entertaining. It’s also a perfect hybrid of comedy, adventure and sci-fi. Throw in a great cast led by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd — both of whom have impeccable chemistry together — and you have the makings for a classic popcorn blockbuster.

Back to the Future [1985, Zemeckis]

Michael J. Fox stars as Marty McFly, a teenager who is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955 while driving his friend Doc Brown’s (Lloyd) Delorean (which just so happens to be rigged with a time machine). After the initial shock of being in the 50s wears off, Marty makes some unwanted changes to history and has to go through a series of events to make things right again. During this, he meets his future parents. His mom (Lea Thompson) is a sexpot and keeps making moves at him, which Marty valiantly struggles to fight off. His father (Crispin Glover) is a nerd, a total pushover with no self confidence. Marty’s two main goals are to ensure that his parents fall in love, and also to get back to the future (of course).

The time travel shtick leads to some truly great moments. There are a lot of amusing disparities between the two times, such as the town’s old theater being turned into an adult cinema in 1985, and Marty’s orange vest frequently referred to as a life jacket in 1955. Whereas so many other time travel movies gloss over potentially history-altering moments, every aspect of Back to the Future seems to be important in the grand scheme of things.

Back to the Future [1985, Zemeckis]

Back to the Future is one of those rare movies where everything is perfectly aligned. Director Robert Zemeckis was paired with the perfect script and the right cast, and he was able to put together an all-around wonderful movie. I am grading this as a tentative 9, but I have the feeling that on subsequent viewings I could give this the full monty. Seriously, this is fantastic and now I understand why everyone was harping on me about not seeing it.

9/10