'Looper' is great sci-fi
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 22:10
“Looper” is one of those movies that is constantly unraveling itself. Just when you think it’s going in one direction, it turns onto a different road. It makes you think you’ve been told everything, only to reveal more secrets. It surprises and amazes you at the same time.
“Looper” takes place in the year 2042, where Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) plays an assassin hired by the future mob. They send their enemies back in time to be killed and get away with murder. Eventually, every one of these assassins, known as Loopers, have to kill their future selves as part of a contractual obligation. Joe soon encounters his older self, portrayed by Bruce Willis, in a role that only he could play, and faces difficulties in hunting him down. That isn’t even half of the entire story, but if that sounds interesting on its own, trust me when I say it gets ten times better.
It’s pretty impossible to have to have a movie about time travel without a complex, mind twisting plot. “Looper” is no exception, but its screenplay is sewn very tightly. The story is fairly easy to follow and I never experienced any “hey, wait a minute” moments. It often presents its scenes from an angle that one wouldn’t expect, and trusts its audience to make the necessary inferences, rather than adding tedious exposition.
The film contains a very rich supporting cast, which includes a mob boss played by Jeff Daniels, who proves with this performance why he’s one of the most underrated actors alive, a desperate and pathetic thug played by Noah Segan, and a tough but deeply troubled farmer played by Emily Blunt. But by far the scene-stealing performance is by Pierce Gagnon, who plays Blunt’s 10 year-old son. Without giving anything away, Gagnon’s character is revealed to be the critical element to the film’s success. He is asked to play a child with many faces and dimensions, and likely has the most challenging performance ever given to a young actor; he nails every aspect of it. If there is any justice in this world, an Academy Award nomination is headed his way.
What sets “Looper” apart from most science fiction thrillers is how it writes and utilizes its characters. Every character, from the primary to the lesser is given strong development and a deep personal conflict. Nobody emerges as the clear hero or the villain, and because everybody has a stake in the story, you are constantly torn over who to root for. Sometimes that can work against a film, but not here. “Looper” is not afraid of taking risks, and the plot goes into several areas that many other films would and have stayed clear of.
“Looper” begins as a very cold and basic film about gangsters and violence. And while it did well on that front, it quickly evolves into an absorbing multi-layered drama about morals, passion and the lengths people will go to in order to protect the people they care about. It’s brilliant, innovative and one of the best films of the year.