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Looper

15 Dec

In a movie year that has emerged as one of the best in a while, it may have been appropriate to have entitled Looper as “Sleeper” instead. I don’t know the box office numbers for this Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Bruce Willis vehicle, but it sure seems to have flown under the radar in terms of buzz. It’s a movie that has sort of flown around the edges of my radar for a while, and my wife and I were able to catch it at a cheap-o theater before it left town.

And I’m glad that we did. Because it turned out to be a stylish, mind stretching sci fi, hit man, good/evil, action packed social commentary ride of a film. There were flaws here and there, to be sure, but overall this movie hit the mark. The central plot revolves around hit men of the near future who are hired out to kill people sent back in time to them from even further (30 years to be exact) in the future. For various reasons, the gangster bosses of the future send people they want out of the way back in time, and the hit men of “today” (known as Loopers) kill them and get paid. The problem for the Loopers comes when a boss wants to cancel their contract, called closing the loop. This is done by the Looper’s future self being sent back to his present self to be killed. Since the people being sent from the future to be killed appear to the Looper with bags covering their faces, the Loopers don’t know they’re killing their future selves. It makes perfect sense in the world of the movie, trust me. And the Looper is paid handsomely for the closed loop, allowing them to live a life of luxury for the next 30 years, but also with the knowledge that they will be killing themselves…

Deep breath. So, Gordon-Levitt’s character is presented with his own closed loop scenario when his future self (in the form of Bruce Willis) shows up. The difference is, Gordon-Levitt’s future self manages to show up with no hood over his face. When Gordon-Levitt is unable to pull the trigger on the hit of his future self, it sets a whole slew of plot twists into motion. Gordon-Levitt’s future self in the form of Willis has managed to overcome the degenerate life he had lived when he meets a beautiful woman who turns his life around. There is a parallel plot that takes place involving a mysterious, evil power known as the Rainmaker who has taken over the future world that Bruce Willis’ future Gordon-Levitt is part of. For reasons fully explained in the movie, Willis comes back in time (risking his life) in order to find the Rainmaker as a child to kill the Rainmaker before he can grow up to rule the underworld. This is all because of something that happens to the woman who helps remake Willis’ life…

Another deep breath. Suffice it to say that as much as I’ve already given away, there really aren’t any significant spoilers that I’ve given away. You just have to go along for the ride as the film explores all sorts of not always easy to solve moral dilemmas for various characters. There is the Gordon-Levitt/Willis battle with self. And the what to do with the kid who is the future evil Rainmaker. Can he be saved? Changed? Can destiny/time be altered? Throw in a how far would you go for love plot line, a what causes people to go bad analysis and, to me, the biggest question of the movie, which explores the ways in which we do or don’t give up on people and kids who may be troubled, and there is just a giant stew to, excuse the pun, stew on. And this is all in, as I mentioned earlier, a super stylish, largely effective action movie package that just adds to the excitement.

The film rises or falls on how you react to Gordon-Levitt and Willis as the same character. For me, it totally works. I’m starting to feel a bit about Gordon-Levitt that he may be a bit of a new Tom Cruise. I know Sarah has been a Gordon-Levitt fan for a while. I’m becoming a convert. If for no other reason than, like I eventually did with Cruise, that I am realizing the sheer number of good movies that Gordon-Levitt has been in recently (Inception, Dark Night Rises, Lincoln, 50/50, among others). At some point, you wake up in realize, again like Cruise, this guy is in a lot of good stuff. JGL is great in this movie, pretty much carrying it. As for Willis, he underplays it just enough, showing the vulnerability of an aged guy who has lived a bad life, but can still be salvaged in a really well done way. There are a couple of obligatory, Bruce Willis Needs To Be A Badass Now moments that take a tiny bit away from the vibe of the film, but that’s more in the writing than anything to do with Willis’ performance. He’s great, as is Emily Blunt as the future Rainmaker’s mother, a woman battling her maternal instincts versus what to do about a child that she knows can do so much damage in the future.

The screenplay in this movie is pretty brilliant. The moral dilemmas the characters are dealing with aren’t slammed over your head, but they also aren’t so subtle and esoteric that you can barely see them. To be sure, there are a couple of overlong speeches that could have been cut a bit, and a couple of the Willis action scenes were a bit cliché. Overall, though, this might be the best movie of the year in the Best After Movie Conversation About What That Was About category. The action and basic plot are both super involving and laid out in the way that good books are laid out. After a slow first 15 minutes in which you’re wondering if the movie is going to go anywhere, the rest of the movie will have you intrigued and guessing about what is coming next. You’ll love the action but it will also make you think about the mysterious forces (both good/bad, controllable/uncontrollable, selfish/unselfish, etc) that influence us to live our lives. See this movie.

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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Favorites, General Film, Reviews

 

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