Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano.
Written by Rian Johnson
Running time: 118 mins
Release date: 28th September 2012
Time travel thrillers are incredibly hard to get right. You have to be able to fill the blanks in without leaving too many holes or questions as to how this happens or that happens. When they are good, they are excellent (Back To The Future), when they are bad they are awful (remember Freejack?) So in the hands of writer director Rian Johnson, the man who gave us the superb Brick, this could go either way. Luckily for us, it goes the right way.
In the future, Time Travel will be used to send back criminals that are needed to be disposed of by contract killers called Loopers. Because of the laws and modern tracking devices, killing a man in the future can be found out but in the past, not so much. Every so often a Looper has to face his own older self from the future. Joe is a man who is living the good life as one such Looper as the bodies and payments come in. Then he soon discovers that a new regime has occurred meaning that Loopers are going to be facing their future selfs quicker. When Joe meets older Joe, he lets him escape but older Joe is on his own personal mission.
As you would have expected from the man who gave us one of the most intelligent and self-assured films of the 21st century with Brick, Johnson isn’t just going to sit back on his laurels. He wants his audience to work for this well earned cinema ticket and he does it with one of this year’s best sci-fi thrillers. A film with plenty of twists and turns to keep the more mature members of the audience happy while still supplying a handful of explosive set pieces for the action hungry fans.
Piling the plot twists up, Johnson delivers a well made and sometimes striking vision of the future, where wealth has no time for the poor and needy, driving fast cars through streets of slums to reach their chosen destinations, although simplifying things but the second half and having it set mainly on a farm.
The first section moves along at breakneck speed, with plenty of action and intrigue as the story begins to build but alas slows down when Young Joe is hunting his older self on a farm belonging to Emily Blunt. It’s this section that drags its heels a bit until an exciting and satisfactory conclusion.
It’s nice to see Bruce Willis back in a film that is more than just a violent gorefest. While not pushing his acting skills to the limit, he is always good value and very watchable and here he does what he is expected to do. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of the busiest actors around at the moment, has to deal, not only with the complexities of the plot but has to look like Bruce Willis. Donning prosthetics, there are moments when he is uncannily like Willis and it’s the skill of Gordon-Levitt’s as an actor that eh manages to pick up on smirks and nuances that the film star has.
Emily Blunt continues to be in everything, this time as a farmer protecting her land and her “son” from the time traveler and Looper, and with suitably convincing American accent and it’s nice to see the massively underrated Jeff Daniels back on the big screen.
Some people will find Looper infuriating that it doesn’t follow a proper line of storytelling. Others may find it cliched (it does borrow from other sci-fi films…The Terminator springs to mind, especially in the second half) but there have been far too many lazy science fiction films of late that don’t generate enough excitement for most to see this as a masterpiece. Possibly a cult classic in future years?
Aside from the dip in the middle and maybe being 20 minutes too long, this is an intelligent, inventive thriller with plenty to keep the attention. I liked it.