Looper (2012) – Film Review

The first major-hit for director Rian Johnson, a filmmaker who would later go on to direct ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi’ in 2017, one of the most divisive instalments in the entire ‘Star Wars’ saga. ‘Looper’ is a unique time-travelling thriller blending some brilliant performances with exciting action and plenty of interesting ideas, and whilst I don’t think the film will become one of the most iconic sci-fi films ever made in the next few years, the film is certainly worth a watch or two.

Plot Summary: In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past where a hired gun awaits them. However, when the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ on the hired gun, they then send an older version of themselves back for assassination…

Any plot involving time travel always has the risk of a potentially messy story. However, Rian Johnson actually manages to avoid many of these issues by having time travel simply be the framework of the story, with the characters and their actions really being the main focus. Focusing mostly on the tense chase throughout the film, the film’s quick pace gives the audience an easy to digest thriller with plenty of substance still underneath its surface, although not completely free of small plot holes in regards to the time travel aspects, the film definitely makes use of some of the ways criminals could abuse the power it gives them.

The protagonist: ‘Joe’ portrayed by the very underrated Joseph Gordon-Levitt, gives a great performance as a man stuck in a life with little direction. As we see a standard day through his eyes before the story truly begins, giving us a clear understanding of how the future functions and his job as a hired gun within it. Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt also have large roles in the film, as Bruce Willis takes on the role of an older version of: ‘Joe,’ whilst Emily Blunt takes on the role of: ‘Sara,’ a farmer who soon becomes wrapped-up in ‘Joe’s business. Jeff Daniels also appears in the film as a surprisingly intimidating villain, this is also helped by the writing, however, as we explore each character piece-by-piece alongside the film’s version of the future.

The decent cinematography by Steve Yedlin and great editing by Bob Ducsay both help give the film a great visual appeal, as many of the beautiful shots back-up the film’s memorable scenes very well. Composer Nathan Johnson also lends to the atmosphere of the film through his brilliant original score, which combines the soundtrack of traditional action flick with a unique science fiction vibe, resulting in a score that’s both indelible and dramatic. What’s interesting, however, is that Nathan Johnson isn’t just any composer, but is actually Rian Johnson’s cousin, having penned scores for all of his films excluding the previously mentioned: ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi,’ for which legendary composer, John Williams, returned.

Many of the action scenes throughout the film are also quite well done, as the film truly puts Bruce Willis’ action skills to the test in one particular scene set within a warehouse, which was an absolute joy to watch for me. However, this is actually where one of my criticisms of the film comes in, as sometimes in the film the balance between futuristic and modern-day can become a little unbalanced, especially in one action scene on ‘Sara’s farm. Another issue I have with the film is the element of telekinesis in the story, despite its small relevance near the end of the film’s runtime. I simply felt it doesn’t fit into the world being explored, and was definitely an element that could’ve been cut.

Overall, ‘Looper’ has always been a personal sci-fi favourite for me, as the film really is a brilliant time-travel story juggling a large number of genres that somehow manages not be cluttered. Giving the audience more of a simple narrative with interesting characters, all with a well-crafted sci-fi world backing it up. The attractive cinematography and editing alongside the fantastic score make the film a very pleasant watch. Final Rating: 8/10.


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