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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Movie Review - Looper

Looper  $$  

119 Minutes
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and Jeff Daniels.
Director: Rian Johnson. 

            The ads for this film really grabbed my interest, but I avoid most “R” rated films. It is my opinion that the material that goes into a movie that earns it an “R” rating lessens the story. That comes from my point of view as an author. My personal take on the excessive violence, gore and crude language is that I don’t like it. In the end, it was the frantic urgings of my friend that convinced me to see this film.
            I wouldn’t quite consider it a mistake, but it sure wasn’t the best decision I made last week.  

            Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper. As Joe explains during the opening scene of the movie, time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but it has thirty years in the future. The mobs use the technology to get rid of someone. Loopers are assassins that wait in the past and when the victim arrives they shoot them with a funky looking shotgun. The victims are tied up, kneeling, and have a bag over their head so there isn’t much of a challenge to it. All a person apparently needs is a lack of a conscience.
            When the future mob decides it no longer wants to employ a looper they send back the assassin’s future self. The looper then kills the older version of themselves and is given a big payout to live the next thirty years in relative ease. At which time they will be nabbed and sent back to be killed. They call this “closing the loop.” As it turns out, the number of closed loops has been increasing. It looks as is if someone wants all of the loopers eliminated.
            Eventually, Joe is sent out to terminate himself. However, Older Joe (Bruce Willis) shows up late and without a bag over his head. He is able to over power Younger Joe and then heads into the city.  

            The concept behind this story is interesting, but some of the scenes in the film seemed borrowed. I can imagine the pitch that the writer gave went something like this: “It’s 12 Monkeys” (which also starred Bruce Willis) meets The Terminator.” Which admittedly sounds pretty cool.
            Unfortunately, the movie does a poor job of making us care about the protagonist. He is a hedonistic, drug-addicted, cold-blooded killer. Neither New Joe nor Old Joe are characters we can root for. And that is the death of this movie. In fact, it’s tough to find anyone to like in this film. Jeff Daniels puts in a good performance as the mob boss sent back from the future to run the looper organization. He does manage to exude charm while threatening death and torture to anyone who defies him. Sara (Emily Blunt) garners some sympathy as the only character in the movie that is motivated by a noble cause, but failed to be very likeable. Jesse (Garret Dillahunt) is a gunman with a sense of propriety and apparently without a desire to cause needless death and suffering. Too bad he had such a small role in the film.  
            There were numerous other flaws with the film that stood out to me that non-authors may not notice. Like the guns that were used, or what the deal was with Kid Blue (Noah Segan), or was the Terminator scene at the looper facility really necessary?            

            The acting was reasonable. Let’s face it, Bruce Willis is a paragon in the acting community and have a great deal of respect for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. No need to say any more about the script. The filmography was good. Although, the scenes around the cornfield felt out of place with the rest of the movie.
            This film earned two movie bucks from me, but I expect that non-writers and people who routinely see “R” rated movies will enjoy it more than that. Nothing in the film really screams for it to be seen at the theater. You can most likely get as much out of it as a rental as you will by going out to see it.

            Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.



  1. I should put that on the list of movies I want to see when I have time, along with "Argo."

    1. I have a suspicion that it may not be in theaters very long so you might want to put it on the short list.

    2. True, but maybe I'll catch it in a second-run theater.

    3. Wohoo. That would be what my rating suggests.

  2. Sounds like an interesting concept, and I like Bruce Willis, but I'm not sure this is my kind of film. LIke you, I generally find R ratings kind of cheapened by the violence etc.

    1. Agreed. Bruce Willis is great normally, but in this film I didn't really enjoy the part he played. I think you would probably be wise to pass on this one.

  3. I found the end to be thought-provoking and disturbing at the same time. I'm not sure it was worth the full price of a regular ticket, but I thought the grittiness and nastiness of the movie was meant as a planned opinion of the society being portrayed, and I didn't think we were supposed to like the protaganist until the very end. It struck me as more "literary" than scifi or action, or some kind of odd mix of all three.

    1. I agree. Definately a statement about society and about the cycle of violence. That part of it I liked. Probably the best part of the movie is that it presented a couple of interesting and unique themes. But I think they could have done a better job with the writing and still kept the gritty edge to it.