Friday, April 26, 2013

Looper

Directed by Rian Johnson.
2012. Rated R, 119 minutes.
Cast:
Piper Perabo
Noah Segan
Pierce Gagnon
Qing Xu

Our story focuses on Joe (Gordon-Levitt). He’s an assassin known as a looper. His job is killing people sent back from the future by mobsters who live in a time where disposing of bodies is virtually impossible. At some point, whenever they decide they want to completely disassociate with a particular looper, they “close his loop” by sending him his future self to gun down. Needless to say, when Joe fails to kill the older Joe (Willis) who has been zapped back to him, all sorts of problems arise. Young Joe trying to kill his loop, Joe’s boss (Daniels), plus a slew of henchmen, trying to kill Joe and/or his loop and his loop doing some killing of his own ensues.

Despite the focus on shooting people, Looper is a thinking man’s action flick. It disguises that fact pretty well until it’s final moments. Until then it plays out like a wonderful game of cat and mouse and mouse (not a typo). As you might imagine, such a scenario makes it difficult for us to figure out who to root for. This is a good thing. Both the younger and older Joe have compelling reasons for their actions. Since they’re not presented simultaneously our allegiances sway.


Eventually, we meet Sara (Blunt) and her little boy Cid (Gagnon). They figure heavily in the proceedings, but we’re not sure what to make of them, either. Again, this is good. It’s good because we’re never confused, just conflicted. Our confliction adds to the tension between chase scenes and shootouts. We find ourselves on the edge of our seats as pending danger for one person or another creeps closer. The trick is, through more character development that we had any right to expect from a shoot 'em up sci-fi flick, we become vested in these people. We really understand why each of them feel their actions are the only way to deal with the issues at hand. This is used to much greater effect than rushing us off to the next action sequence, or trying to dazzle us with special fx. Even though, like I said, at it’s core it is science-fiction, Looper is not about showing off whatever futuristic gadgets the filmmakers can dream up or giving us a laser and lights show. It’s a rather human tale that happens to contain time-travel.

Humanity not only drives the movie, but ends it as well. One character makes a decision many of us would like to believe we’d make but I’m not sure how many really would. Once it happens, Looper instantly becomes a parable addressing several issues pertaining to current-day society. I choose the word parable because it is not terribly different from some religious stories. Still, that’s not why it has the immediate impact it does. It has that because it poses a simple question you can debate with your friends. Would you do it?

MY SCORE: 9/10

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