Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Flick of The Day: Looper

A few weeks back in my review of Premium Rush, I noted that it had been a big year career wise for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and it would seem unfair not to mention perhaps his most challenging role in Rian Johnson's mind bending time travel flick Looper. A bravely original story, it didn't break any box office records but found solid reviews wherever it opened.
In the year 2044 in a post-collapse America, time travel has yet to be invented but thirty years from then it has been. While the technology is quickly outlawed, criminal organisations harness it for nefarious uses. Those people who have to be made disappear are sent back in time where designated assassins known as Loopers dispose of them. One such hired gun is Levitt's Joe, a man in it for the money with a longing to escape the life and move to Paris. He spends his days learning French and his nights using drugs in hedonistic night clubs. One of the unfortunate elements of his job is that one day his employer will send his older self back in time to be murdered, a process known as closing the loop. Of course that day soon arrives and Bruce Willis turns up as older Joe. Joe hesitates for a moment and his older self knocks him out and goes on the run. Joe is left with little choice but to track down himself and see the loop closed or face the consequences from his boss Abe, an excellent Jeff Daniels.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not an obvious younger version of Bruce Willis and he deserves credit for undergoing the requisite make-up which makes him largely unrecognisable. The film opens very well, creating  a wonderfully realised dystopian setting. Indeed so well done is the set-up and the flash forward's to the next thirty years of Joe's life that the rest of the film can't really live up to it. The pace slows as we reach the middle of the film and the lack of any real action is a real shame because the film picks itself up again as we head for a thrilling finale. Please do not take this as a scathing criticism however for their is so much to enjoy and take in, it is just a shame that it doesn't fully realise its potential.
The film possesses an excellent and well thought out cast beyond the leads. Paul Dano and Emily Blunt give fine turns and special mention must go to newcomer Pierce Gagnon who is excellent for such a young child in a role that very much carries the second half of the movie. Ultimately this is a satisfying if imperfect slice of mind bending sci-fi in the manner of Christopher Nolan's Inception. There are so many great ideas throughout the script, much like Rian Johnson's earlier neo-noir in a highschool film Brick.
Johnson deserves particular credit for bringing a new idea to the table in terms of time travel, something which is littered throughout the genre. The film is also particularly stylish and self assured and this combined with a fine concept and a stellar cast carry the whole thing off.

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