Looper Review

Looper (2012) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt,  Bruce Willis,  Emily Blunt

The Retro Review season continues with the 2012 Rian Johnson movie Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. I have to admit I totally missed the initial release of the film and only got round to watching it in 2014. The movie itself although was still fresh in my mind as I decided to review it, I thought I should view it once more as this is a film although complex in many levels goes to great lengths to avoid any glaring plot holes.

Time Travel movies have always consistent of audience members looking for these plot holes at great lengths and deep debates of trying to find them. Here Writer and Director Rian Johnson really nails the situation within the first 10 minutes of the movie on how it works. Loopers are employed to assassinate a person sent back from the future immediately and that is their job until “retirement”. When a “loop” closes (basically when that looper is done when they are older they are sent back in time to be killed by their younger self, hence the loop is closed.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays young Joe and Bruce Willis plays the old version of Joe who is sent back in time to the exact time and location that young Joe is waiting on to kill him. Obviously the young Joe isn’t aware of his next victim and  this is one thing I liked and understood about older Joe. He was aware and prepared to do battle with his younger self knowing this path. In typical Bruce Willis fashion his character doesn’t get bogged down with how this happens and why it happens etc. The character really just bypasses any deep and logistical explanation as if all that matters is the situation now and there. I found this with all the main character in the movie that they all had their own reasons why they were there and why they had to do what that had to do and to be honest this works for this movie as the plot is multilayered and complex enough without over complicating the storyline.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a younger Joe is brilliant and delivers once again. But he is also a younger Bruce Willis and under heavy prosthetics and makeup is a passable younger Willis too. The make up is as good as its going to be and to be honest if I hadn’t known what Gordon-Levitt looked like before I probably wouldn’t have noticed the change in his appearance. Apart from the cosmetic side of the Actor I noticed Gordon-Levitt adopted a few of Willis’ mannerisms and I was pleased to see that he wasn’t impersonating Willis but really captured the essence of the veteran actor instead.

Bruce Willis is equally as good playing opposite Gordon-Levitt and there is a real chemistry between the two leads which was great and really helped convince the audience that they are one of the same person. It’s not often you get to see Willis perform as the “Bad Guy” in a movie and here is an exception based on the fact that he is trying to stay alive and as the story unfolds his actions and mission are explained in a believable and emotional way which if you haven’t watched “Looper” I won’t go into any great detail as it is a major spoiler.

Supporting the leads is Emily Blunt as Sara who performed very well and really held her own with both Gordon-Levitt and Willis. although not entering the story until a good hour into the movie Blunt really makes her mark right away as a no nonsense mother protecting her son and to be fair is a long way off her more familiar roles we were used to seeing her in up to this point. Her character is convincing and she really fits into the role with a convincing american accent and looks pretty comfortable holding a rifle when protecting her family and land.

Her son Cid in the movie portrayed by Pierce Gagnon is a stand out and fantastic in such a pivotal role. The chemistry between Blunt and Gagnon is so obviously there that you would be convinced they are Mother and Son in real life and the emotional pull between both actors really goes beyond anything I was expecting from the supporting cast. Gagnon also has some tender and funny moments with Gordon-Levitt in the movie and really added to the relationship between the characters.

Writer/Director Rian Johnson to be honest created a very believable future that isn’t a far cry from todays world and doesn’t portray it too much in the style of the Fifth Element or darker in the way of Blade Runner. Johnson’s style intrigues me as his tone is some major dark scenes at night (obviously) and during daylight looks very gritty and grainy, much in the way Logan (2017) is shot (if that makes any sense) and overall I have to say that I like more of the things “Looper” achieved in storytelling, acting, direction and chemistry. The plot isn’t over complicated and I think this is why it’s a likeable film. Johnson appears to respect the audience enough not to patronise and appears to relish keeping the audience interested and in suspense. “Looper” is a fine piece of filmmaking and has a wonderful multilayered and intelligent storyline that I can’t recommend enough.

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