Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Verdict: Good fun
Is it just me or does director Rian Johnson, (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Breaking Bad), have major childhood issues? Think about it, Brick is a noir murder mystery set against the back drop of a high school, The Brothers Bloom is about a pair of sibling con men, and Looper has Freudian, psychoanalytical readings a plenty to sink your teeth into. I might not be far wrong here.
Looper is an action sci-fi noir film from the man who’s to bring us Star Wars: Episode VIII. It has a time travel premise that would honestly take me the whole of this review to lay out to you, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, 500 Days of Summer), character has a speech memorised and everything. Needless to say, himself, 30 years from now is around making business and some very bad people want to hurt both of them, or one of them, this time travel shit is confusing. I mean that’s one way of saying it, another way of saying is that it’s clearly evident that this film’s time travel laws make absolutely fuck all sense and crumble upon the slightest inspection. In fact there’s one scene that has been cited the world over as echoing the scene from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me in which Austin is told not to worry about the ins and outs of time travel, before Bazil Exposition turns to the camera and goes “and I suggest you do the same”, Bruce Willis, (The Sixth Sense, Die Hard), keeps repeating to Gordon-Levitt that “it doesn’t matter” increasingly forcefully until he shuts up. The thing is about that time travel is that it makes just enough sense to keep you engaged, and it does at a first glace it seems perfectly fine but as the film goes on it begins to fall apart but you’re hopefully so involved in the drama at that point you might not care.
The key success of Looper is that it does the three things that sci-fi has done brilliantly but separately since its inception, except all at once; it explores interesting scientific little widgets like, ‘what if this particular brand of time travel was a thing and it just went horribly wrong’, in the vein of, maybe Ex_Machina, Moon, or Blade Runner; it explores sort of real emotional/political depth, (less the political in this case), like District 9 or A.I. Artificial Intelligence; and it provides great crashbangwhallop set pieces in the vein of The Matrix and Star Wars, and it does each of those things perfectly fine. Emily Blunt, (Sicario, Edge of Tomorrow), very much provides a counter to the raging, and actually slightly problematic machismo of the rest of the film. She only shows up until the last act and the only real women character up until that point is the typical noir prostitute/stripper girlfriend stereotype that is really just tired and slightly offensive at this point, but Emily Blunt, probably the best thing about the film, isn’t exactly strong and indomitable, she has moments of weakness and fault but they give her character a depth and complexity that works very well with her bolder moments and honestly she’s just fantastic. The machismo is definitely there with the film’s action and noir trappings, Jeff Daniels, (The Martian) is there doing that thing he does of looking quite amicable and friendly but also like he’s also going to alternately fire you or snap your neck depending on the age rating of the movie, and Bruce Willis does that thing Bruce Willis does of stroking his ageing ego by holding a very bug gun very high on his body and firing it very quickly and loudly with a very big frown shouting very gratuitous insults. However, I think the film does enough for me to forgive it. Paul Dano, (Love & Mercy, There Will Be Blood) is there, and I love Paul Dano, and I’ll watch him in anything, but honestly he’s wasted here and he can do better I know he can.
All in all, Looper is a fairly ambitious piece that succeeds through a heartfelt plot, a level of cineliteracy I liked, (there’s one shot of Bruce Willis before he’s lost all of Gordon-Levitt’s hair that is unmistakably a visual reference to The Fifth Element that I quite enjoyed), and a neat little sci-fi widgety plot as well as some top notch world building and production design from Ed Verreaux, (Jurassic World, Rush Hour 3).