When i watched the trailer of Looper last July i was so excited because 1) it’s a JGL and Bruce Willis movie, 2) it involves time travel. Time travel is a concept that already inspired more than 200 movies usually of sci-fi genre. Usually, time travel focus on how consequences of changing the past will effecting the future. The question is, whether Looper just repeats the tired repetition in its plot?
May contain spoiler, be warned!
It’s 2044 America, where Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for a mob syndicate to assassinate rouge villain, sent from the near future, with single blow of his gun. The catch is, there are those called Loopers, sometimes these assassin sometimes need to close the ‘loop’, when in the distant future they elder selves must be liquidated because they are considered a threat to their syndicate, when they are sent to be assassinated complete with hood around their faces and with gold bars strapped on their bodies as a special payoff. Joe faces doubts when he recognized his target as his old self, when he arrived one day without a hood covering his face, unable to accept the possibility of getting killed within 30 years. Old Joe (Bruce Willis) manage to escape and ran off, making himself and his young self a target for their syndicate. Now that, my friend, is the gist that i got from the first trailer i saw (and i did not read any article or watch any newly released trailers/teasers after that).
If you reach that part of the point you probably would think this is an tempting action movie with a dramatic espionage-esque edge and with sci-fi time travel involvement. But really, the trailer is just as misleading as that. The action sequence was not as fluid and smooth, nor it is brilliantly choreographed, nor raw and gritty. I personally thought some of it looks rather awkward and cheap, not too surprising since the movie budget is pretty low ($30 million). The design of 2044 did not venture too much into a futuristic territory but still grounded into nowadays technological improvement. The futurism can be seen in the 2074 set in China, though.
Then the story reveals a deeper plot. When Old Joe and Joe finally face each other without attempts of killing one another, Old Joe explain how he was sent back from 2074. Where they would’ve invented time machine and time travel would be possible. He was living a peaceful life with his wife he met in future china, but then disrupted by The Rainmaker. Old Joe came back to finish off the spawn that would become the rainmaker before he turn into one and asked Joe to help him. He got three possibilities and and split it, so one of it brought Joe to a sugar cane farm and met Sara (Emily Blunt) and Cid (Pierce Gagnon).
This movie hits me in a more psychological level than i thought it could ever be. The philosophical content is delivered in a very pragmatic sense that i did not realize what hits me and left me pondered about its profund truth. I felt there was so many questions raised during the entire run of the movie. about faith, fate, morality, sacrifices for the (supposedly) greater good, and simply about life itself.
Bruce Willis no doubt deliver a solid emotional performance, especially when he shows remorse and hidden emotion that contrast to how he was introduced to the movie. However, i feel that he did not do as well in the more physical action part though, i wonder if its the technical issue, but he looks strained in the supposedly more adrenaline-pumping sequence. Emily Blunt was serving passable kansas accent (that i never thought possible) and deliver a balanced emotion of a caring, unconditionally loving parent and a frightened mother. I like the vulnerability of her character here, definitely something i would not expect, and i pleasantly enjoyed it. Pierce Gagnon is the 5 years-old Cid, that would become the notorious rainmaker of the future, was a stand out even against his seniors, he delivers a charmingly adorable innocence and frighteningly, chillingly scary kid almost in a split milisecond interval.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was quite literally unrecognizable.In the hand of of Kazuhiro Tsuji (whose magic hand did wonders in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and hours of make up (NY times.com), he was transformed into this unrecognizable man that is a reminisence of Bruce Willis. Well this is the furthest changes that JGL incorporates in his acting so far and the result was quite mesmerizing, as you can see in the scene where he grew and meta-morphed into Old Joe. Even with the existence of Willis, i still think the spotlight is in JGL performance. This year he really has a lot of range of performance between 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises and even Premium Rush. Joe is confused soul that is looking to fill a hole in his heart and found a disheartening resemblance that force him to make a choice and sacrifice. The moment of near the end of the movie really blew me away. But that’s a partly because of the brilliant script.
Looper is the third movie written and directed by Rian Johnson. It delivers an interesting premise and a strong script, that really more profounds and have more heart than most would thought it would be. Its one of the sci-fi time travel movie that was not all about making the time-travel factor as the main course of the movie. Despite the flawed execution (am still blaming the minimum budget) i enjoy this movie very much. Its the kind of movie that walks on thin tight rope between utterly confusing or being so brilliant with have mind-blowing revelation. I personally chose the later.
The movie has been a critical success so far, but will it do good commercially (so far it earns $21 million)? Until this blog post is published, it has not yet screen regularly in local theaters in Indonesia (i watched it as a midnight sneak). But it probably won’t be as easy to digest for most audience, this is the kind of movie that you would either love or hate, nothing in between. If you love Nolan’s Memento you probably will enjoy Looper, but i would not recommend it if you prefer watching 2012 Total Recall.
Pictures are taken from IMDb