Friday, 28 September 2012
Rian Johnson is firmly cementing himself as one of my favourite film-makers. His first feature, the intimate neo-noir thriller Brick is one of my favourite films of all time. While his follow-up The Brothers Bloom is a slick and highly entertaining comedy caper. His 'difficult' third film sees him reunite with, Brick star and one of Hollywood's golden boys at the minute, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and action icon Bruce Willis for one of the most unique and best films of the year in Looper.
Set in the year 2044, Looper paints a claustrophobic and bleak vision of our future - not too far removed from Alfonso Cuaron's in the grossly underrated cult classic Children of Men - where the majority of the population are thrown into poverty and the cities are run by the mob. In about 30 years time from this point, the ability to time travel will be invented and instantly outlawed, used only by the wealthiest crime organisations. Joe's (Gordon-Levitt) role as a Looper is to get rid of the bodies the mob send back in time and thus erased off the planet entirely. In my honest opinion it seems like a bit of an arse about face way of going about it, but it's highly entertaining nonetheless. However, everything is thrown into chaos when the mob intend to cut all ties with the Loopers and Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back for assassination.
With notable contributions in the likes of Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, 50/50 amongst others it feels as though Joseph Gordon-Levitt can do no wrong at the minute. With Looper this is no different, and it was brilliant to see him carry such a frantic, mind bending action film so seamlessly. With the help of some impressive prosthetic work his face was altered to resemble a 'younger' Bruce Willis rather amazingly. Yet it wasn't just superficially, his mannerisms, the tough, gruff voice, that cold demeanour were all mimicked to such an amazing effect.
All the while Bruce Willis got to be well... Bruce Willis. Which frankly isn't a bad thing and, even as The Expendables 2 and RED showed, he's still got the gravitas and panache for the caustic action sequences. Truthfully the vibe and overall themes of the film weren't too far removed from one of Willis' other more memorable films, Twelve Monkeys. The supporting ensemble of Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, a slightly sinister Jeff Daniels, Rian Johnson collaborator Noah Segan and a genuinely creepy contribution from child actor Pierce Gagnon just gave the film so much depth and quality.
Rian Johnson's handling of the feature was truly remarkable, especially as it was so far removed from his previous two films, which were so dialouge heavy but lacking in the visual department. One of the most striking things was the level of violence, and truthfully how it even just got a 15 rating is quite a mystery. It doesn't quite reach the heights of Drive's messier moments from 2011 but it does come very close at times. You get the feeling if Warner Bros want someone to step into Christopher Nolan's shoes to carry on the Batman franchise, Johnson's CV is starting to make a seriously strong case.
Inevitably with the themes of the film you will encounter the odd plot hole here and there, but it just about gets away with it. The time travelling paradoxes of the film aren't nearly as extreme as the likes of Primer (one of the few films to give me a genuine headache) or quite as dumbed down as JJ Abrams' Star Trek. It managed to strike a fine balance of keeping the story predominantly character driven and heavy with the action and sci-fi visuals while also leaving you feeling ponderous of the cause and consequences upon the film's debatable open ending.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis team up for one of the best films of 2012. Its violence is satisfying, its action is most definitely packed, littered with a tonne of quality supporting actors and a truly absorbing story driven by character and not always spectacle. Don't miss.
Looper is in cinemas everywhere now.