Thanks to Sony, I received an early Christmas gift as Rian Johnson’s Looper arrived a few days early. After interviewing both Johnson and the film’s star (see here), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I was anxious to see this film. It is a film that involves a hitman who uses a time machine to eradicate targets from the future. Now before you think this is a revisit of Timecop (1994), rest assured it is not. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe doesn’t jump from one time to another erasing people from existence. In fact, his job is basically to dispose of the “hit” in the present after it was captured and sent back to him. A perfect solution in getting rid of an unwanted corpse. There is a catch of course, as there always is.
Joe’s job is to basically kill the target and burn the body. It’s a low level job that rewards an incredible amount of money. Joe will work as a “Looper” until the day he will close his own loop. When that day arrives, he will kill his older self. Joe will then be paid in gold and receive the next 30 years to live out his life. Joe has been saving his money and learning French as he plans to leave America. Everything is going according to plan until several of his Looper cronies start closing their own loops one by one. Joe’s closest associate, Seth (Paul Dano), has second thoughts on closing his own loop and Seth’s older self escapes. What Seth learns and shares with Joe is that a new boss, The Rainmaker, has taken over and all the Loopers are being put out to pasture. Naturally, Joe is next in line. However, his older self, played by Bruce Willis, has a something to live for and escapes Joe’s sights.
Much like Rian Johnson’s Brick (2005), Looper establishes its own world and dialogue very quickly. In the realm of science fiction (a first for Johnson) this works in spades. Johnson isn’t concerned with showing how much money was spent in futuristic vehicles and weapons. Much like the original Star Wars, they are what they are: everyday tools to get the job done. A gun is called a gat. The hitman that uses a gat is called a Gat and so fourth. Johnson develops his characters quickly and gets the story moving. It is nearly perfect or might be depending on your story preference.
In the Joe’s quest to bring his older self in, he discovers that Old Joe has come back in an attempt to kill The Rainmaker as a child. Thus, saving his own present and young Joe’s future. The reasons, I won’t reveal in as to not spoil anything for those of you that haven’t seen the film. Now, many critics have sighted the originality of Looper and that it is/ was one of the best Sci-Fi films of 2012. After watching it, I have to cry foul. I found much of the plot to be in the same realm of James Cameron’s Terminator (1984). Only this time, it was to kill a gangster instead of saving the leader of the future. So Rian Johnson turned the Terminator story around, big deal.
The other key to plot is so brushed over that by the time Emily Blunt’s Sara character is introduced, one goes “oh, yeah, they did mention that, didn’t they?” To further elaborate, in the future, 10 percent of the population is born with telekinetic powers. It is not a world of superheroes, just a world where people perform stupid parlor tricks... or will it be?
As time travel movies go, Rian Johnson nails it home, much in the same way that George Pal did with the original Time Machine (1960). One could even say it is as smart as Frequency (2000) when it comes to the ripple effects. I found myself loving every minute of the ride until the true villain and Old Joe’s intentions were revealed. After that, it did feel slightly cheapened. In a world where every movie that comes out is based on a pre-existing property, a film like Looper is a breath of fresh air. However, when softer plot points are brushed over and then turn out to be key, I still have to wonder if a film like this is Sci-Fi perfect. Perhaps this is as close as we are going to get these days.
***The releases for New Years Day 2013 are a bit thin, much like last week. A release day on a holiday in never a good thing. Next week the DVD Shopping Bag will be back in full force, or as much as the studios will allow.
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
Cosmopolis Starring Paul Giamatti and Robert Pattinson
Cosmopolis [Blu-ray] Starring Paul Giamatti and Robert Pattinson
Doctor Zhivago Starring Hans Matheson and Sam Neill
Dead by Sunset Starring Ken Olin
Flight into Nowhere Starring James Burke, Dick Purcell and Jack Holt
Kingdom of Gladiators Starring Maurizio Corigliano
Loved Walked In Starring Denis Leary, Terence Stamp and Michael Badalucco
Mardock Scramble: Second Combustion [Blu-ray]
Mardock Scramble: Second Combustion
COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style
The Three Stooges (Rare Treasures from the Columbia Pictures Vault) Starring Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard
Friday the 13th 1-4
Overtime [Blu-ray] (2013) Starring Al Snow, John Wells, Sebrina Siegel and Erica Goldsmith
Overtime Starring Al Snow, John Wells, Sebrina Siegel and Erica Goldsmith
Red Lights (DVD/BD/Digital Combo) [Blu-ray] Starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen
War of the Dead Starring Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi and Samuel Vauramo
War of the Dead [Blu-ray] Starring Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi and Samuel Vauramo
Trial & Retribution Set 6 Starring David Hayman