Directed by Rian Johnson
Starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan
Looper allows writer-director Rian Johnson the playground of science fiction, and if it’s a sign of things to come, then we’re in for a real treat if (and after this movie, when) a studio gives the man a big budget. That’s not to say Looper feels small, in fact it’s Johnson’s biggest film in terms of scope. Johnson though, makes the most of his sixty million dollar budget, with every cent put right on the screen.
Johnson’s scope is Looper‘s biggest asset, and arguably it’s biggest strength. While the picture isn’t perfect, it will spark debate, and one should expect Johnson will be a prominent name after this movie becomes successful. While I usually tend to avoid plot summaries in my reviews, it’s a double priority here as Looper works best when you go into it cold.
With that in mind, Johnson has assembled a cast that breathe good life into his futuristic tale. Bruce Willis gives what’s arguably his best action performance in some time. His older Joe feels like a man who’s made his mistakes and atonned for them in ways he wasn’t ready for, and Willis is able to capture the anger and regret perfect enough. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays young Joe and in a way makes Bruce Willis his own. True, the characteristics of Willis are prevalent in Gordon-Levitt’s portrayal, but his younger version feels fresh, especially when we have movies like Die Hard and Last Boy Scout to use as a reference. The make-up job never bothered, and was subtle enough to not distract from an already terrific job by Gordon-Levitt.
Yet the two main stars are not the show stealers here. That’s not to discredit either one of their performances, nor that of Emily Blunt, who bounces back from her dismal performance in The Five-Year Engagement. Even Jeff Daniels isn’t the big draw here, although he makes for a fantastic antagonist. Young Pierce Gagnon, who plays Cid, is a joy to have on the screen. He’s never an annoyance, and really holds his own with both Gordon-Levitt and Blunt in his scenes. For so many kid performances that turn out to be awful, it’s a beauty to see a child actor just completely own his or her role.
But really, if anyone will break out here, it’s Noah Segan. He plays Kid Blue, a hired hitman working for Daniels’ Abe, and is perfect for comic relief. He’s not restricted to just that, as he’s a character who wants to do right, but is too dimwitted to get the job right. Segan’s able to make you feel for him, and while he’s still technically a villain, you’re almost rooting for him as the picture goes along. Here’s hoping Hollywood picks up to this, and jettisons the man to more starring roles.
The same could be said for Rian Johnson, although Looper isn’t without it’s problems. While many debates can be waged over the time travel aspect, the biggest problem it presents is a morality issue. It’s a fine line to walk because it’s tough to not discuss without giving away any spoilers, but certain character choices were the biggest questions more than the logistics of time travel. It may not be so much a fault of the film as much as my pre-conceived notions, yet it was enough to make me question the film itself.
What won’t be questioned though is how Looper will be a success, and create Johnson some new fans. He deserves them, as he’s crafted a beautifully shot and written picture. If this is Johnson’s coming out party, then roll out the red carpet and get the champagne ready. Hollywood may finally have found a director who can make smart, thought-provoking cinema fun. Here’s hoping Johnson’s next venture is a big budgeted affair.