Director: Rian Johnson
This writer-director Rian Johnson is one clever guy. His work also demands to be paid attention to and listened to because he’s got a highly idiosyncratic voice. Best known for the tough-talking, stylized high school noir Brick, Johnson now takes on that seductive sci-fi and fantasy plot device, time travel, in the strong, exciting head-scratcher Looper.
Mostly avoiding the trip-wires of illogic that tend to plague the gobbledygook of time travel, Johnson dodges the bullet by veering away from plot twists and special effects and instead focusing on relationships, character and emotions. Told you this guy is clever.
Looper stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt and is set in 2044, a crime-ridden world of mob bosses, junkies, sleazy dive bars, haves and have-nots, in which surveillance devices are as plentiful as drugs and time travel is 30 years off but already banned by the government. Well-paid assassins known as “loopers” stalk the mean streets waiting for their targets to be sent back in time so that they can blast them to smithereens. But the loopers also have pull dates, and they know it. It’s all a matter of time. So when the 60-year-old Willis gets hurled back in time hog-tied and covered in a hood, it’s to face Gordon-Levitt, his shifty, thuggish younger self who awaits him in a cornfield with a blunderbuss and a vintage pocket watch. But things go awry, Willis gives Gordon-Levitt the slip and the chase is on, making way for nifty action set pieces and very nice acting cameos for Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo and Paul Dano, among others.
The ever-watchable, flinty Gordon-Levitt, who also starred in Brick, is just right here, even handicapped by odd makeup that doesn’t make him resemble Willis so much as Henry Silva or a nipped and tucked Burt Reynolds. He’s especially good in his scenes with an also on-point Blunt, who plays the mom of a scary five-year-old son (terrific work from Pierce Gagnon) with whom our hero hides out on a remote farm. Willis, too, is right up in Gordon-Levitt’s grill with a savvy, compelling performance. They make excellent Freudian sparring partners. Looper is good, smart, stimulating, pulse-racing fun.
Check out more on the Looper Lifestyle page.