Meatloaf said it best, “Two out of three ain’t bad”- a lyric that almost perfectly describes my feelings with all of the feature films brought to us by Rian Johnson. It took me a few years to catch up to watching BRICK, had mixed feelings about THE BROTHERS BLOOM and now comes his latest, LOOPER. Before I get into Johnson’s splurge with time travel I want to air out my love for his work on one of my favorite shows Breaking Bad as well as my growing love for his personality in interviews and even podcasts I’ve listened to (Johnson has appeared a number of occasions in hilarious fashion on the /Filmcast). Now that that’s out of the way all this talk about ‘growing love’ and Johnson is starting to throw a weird vibe on this discussion so on with LOOPER.
I first heard of LOOPER before I had even sat down to watch any of Johnson’s previous efforts and before the film was even in production. I heard the pitch and loved it and I think that’s the best way to describe what the film is about without giving away too much. In the future time travel is invented, is extremely illegal and used by the mob when they want to erase anyone from existence by sending them 30 years back in time to be taken out by assassins known as loopers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a looper that is sent on a wild chase when his 30 year older self (Bruce Willis) is sent back as his target to do what is called, “closing the loop.” Okay, you got me, I expanded on the initial pitch a bit- trust me though there’s more and it’s for the best that you just learn it on your own.
If it wasn’t evident before then I hope once a wider audience lays their eyes on what Johnson has done here people will see that this is a filmmaker with a clear and unique voice. Audiences that crave something different than what we’re constantly being forced in massive budgets for overblown CGI spectacles will get that breath of fresh air here in LOOPER. Now, that’s not to say that at times Johnson has a tendency to throttle forward when he could just coast for a bit, but the sentiment is the same- rather than always taking the easy way out Johnson continues digging to find something else for people to think about.
On the downside of things, ambition is not always rewarded as it’s my fear LOOPER will be misunderstood or flicked away as that pesky fly buzzing in moviegoer’s ears when all they want is dumbed down action to fill their eyes and ears when they plop down their cash at the ticket counter. Johnson’s film has action to lure in the cattle looking for expensive explosions and bullet flair (though judging by the snoring gentleman behind me you might question that), it has a emotional core for anyone feeling in the mood to hit their softer side (though one of its weaker elements) and above all else the film is clever not just in its science fiction elements, but in the humor as well. After watching Johnson’s films and listening to him speak I’ve grown fond of his sensibilities as a writer and his left of center sense of humor- all of which is on display in full during LOOPER.
If Johnson isn’t the one that will sell you on this film then of course there’s a stellar cast to look at too. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fantastic and his counterpart Bruce Willis is no slouch when it comes to action. Willis though, also has plenty of quieter moments to do some great acting as well and I personally loved the scene where he and Levitt have a lengthy and increasingly hostel encounter in a diner. Emily Blunt shows up about halfway in to attempt at getting in that emotional core of the film in addition to Willis’ baggage he carries over from his experiences in the past 30 years before being sent to die. Everyone in the film shines due to Johnson’s fantastic writing and keen eye for direction which only further cements the director as the heart and soul of the film.
I could go round and round about my love of this film- which would be fitting given its title, but to bring us to a close I love this movie more the longer it rattles around in my brain. Talking about it now just makes me want to continue shouting it’s and Johnson’s praise. Plain and simple LOOPER has emerged as strict competition in this year’s crop of great films. It’s one of the year’s best science fiction and action films that stumbles here and there in some of its more dramatic moments during the halfway point. Otherwise phenomenal writing/directing, great pacing and fantastic performances make LOOPER a film that can be enjoyed over and over and over and over and over and over.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)