Looper (2012) – Film Review
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
by Dan Berlinka
Rian Johnson’s time (and mind) bending thriller starts brilliantly. The fantastic premise is quickly set up by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s laconic narration. Yes, you do have to buy into the time travel mumbo-jumbo, but thankfully the mechanics are swiftly glossed over. The real interest is in the scientific and philosophical implications of encountering your own future self. This is most brilliantly realised in a sequence that is both darkly comic and genuinely horrific.
The first hour or so of Looper is an enthralling mix of action and intelligence. Then feisty-farming-single-mom Emily Blunt shows up and, through no particular fault of her own, it all kind of grinds to a halt. Now there’s yet more mumbo-jumbo. This time it’s about genetic mutations and telekinesis. This gear change sucks out a lot of the movie’s momentum.
That’s not to say that the latter part is without interest. Particularly as it brings with it a truly exceptional performance by young Pierce Gagnon. Reportedly he is only five-years-old when he films his role as Blunt’s son.
“Many fine qualities”
And of course, the cast is one of the film’s strengths throughout. Levitt (whose previous collaboration with Johnson was the superb Brick) remains one of the most exciting actors around; Bruce Willis has exactly the right baggage to give a weary believability to his ageing killer; and Jeff Daniels gives his crime boss the initial appearance of an indulgent uncle, which makes his subsequent ruthlessness all the more sinister.
By the end, the many fine qualities overall probably outweigh the sagging in the second half, but the early promise is so great that the later looseness is a little disappointing and deflating. Certainly worth seeing, though 20-30 minutes worth of trimming and tightening might have made it a masterpiece.