It is rare to find originality in Hollywood these days. Whenever a big-budget blockbuster comes out, it is usually based off of a board game or action figures, a sequel to a popular movie, a prequel to a popular movie or an adaptation of a book, video game, etc.
So whenever that one film that is original and stands on its own comes around, most will find it to be a breath of fresh air.
We hope for it to be a movie that sets up its world well and is a fun time to watch. Luckily, “Looper” is such a film.
The film takes place in the future, in the year 2044. More than 30 years from now, time travel will become outlawed and the only ones who will have control of it are huge crime syndicates.
Their targets are hunted down and sent back to the year 2044, where they’re killed on the spot by “loopers,” assassins paid to kill these targets. One of these loopers is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is one of the best loopers out there, never letting a target escape, a requirement mandated by his employer.
One day, when his next target shows up in front of him and he is about to kill him, he is shocked to discover that his future self (Bruce Willis) is the next target. Joe hesitates, allowing his future self to gain the upper hand and escape. Now Joe must go on the run from his employers all while trying to hunt down his future self.
In an original film such as “Looper,” the audience wants to be intrigued and be able to dive right into the world in front of them. They expect to be entertained. “Looper” delivers on all of these promises.
Not only is this one of the most original films I have seen in years but it is also one of the best films of the year so far, hands down.
The performances in this movie were fantastic. Gordon-Levitt keeps on proving why he is becoming one of Hollywood’s hottest stars. He is fantastic in this movie, managing to make his character so cold and heartless when it comes to killing the target, showing no remorse for killing them.
Even when he has to hunt down his future self, he is still relentless in tracking down his target. During the making of this movie, they used prosthetics on Gordon-Levitt’s face to make him look a little bit more like Bruce Willis.
Not only does he look like a young Bruce Willis, but Gordon-Levitt perfects so many of Willis’ mannerisms and facial expressions. It is literally like watching Willis when he was in his 20s.
And speaking of Willis, it was great to see him in a really good action movie once again. It was fascinating to see him play the same character as Gordon-Levitt, yet make him an entirely different man, one who is tortured by what will happen in the future and how he will do whatever he can to prevent his future from happening.
The supporting cast members also give strong performances. Jeff Daniels gives a nice turn as Joe’s boss from the future. The biggest standouts of the film are Emily Blunt and Pierce Gagnon, who play Sara and Cid, a mother and her son who Joe meets while looking for his future self. Blunt is excellent here making her character wary and vulnerable considering it is just her and her son.
And as for Gagnon … I am not the biggest fan of child actors in movies. For me, they will end up either being pretty good like Hailee Steinfeld in 2010’s “True Grit” or really bad like the kid who played young Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”
But surprisingly, Gagnon is an absolute revelation in this movie. I have never seen a child actor give a performance this strong. I hope we see more of him in the future.
Another thing that I loved about this movie was how this world was introduced and how the story was played out.
The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson, a director who has made a few underrated movies, such as 2005’s “Brick.” In “Looper,” Johnson manages to cleverly and seamlessly set up this world without delving into too much backstory.
Even though the idea of “man meeting his future self” has been done before, Johnson manages to put a fresh new spin on this idea.
Also, Johnson has an interesting visual directing style, setting up interesting camera angles and having beautiful cinematography.
An example of one of these interesting camera angles is when young Joe falls off the ladder of an apartment building and as he falls, the camera moves sideways and follows him as he falls.
The majority of the movie was shot in Louisiana so you have beautiful shots of the open landscape. Johnson also knows how to shoot action scenes well without utilizing the shaky cam technique so you can actually see what is happening.
It’s artfully done well. And speaking of the action scenes, the action in this movie is some of the best action I have seen put on film so far this year.
There are a few minor problems I had with the film. While I did say that I praised the film for its originality, some of the time travel talk in this just messes with your brain a bit and, on occasion, is a bit difficult to follow.
Also, the ending of the film (without giving it away and getting myself into trouble) will cause mixed reviews.
Personally, I did not mind the ending but I can see how some people might be rather divided on it.
Overall, “Looper” is a smart, original film. It met all the expectations I had going into it and is one of the best films of the year.