Looper is an incredible film that deserves all the praise that it’s already gained and more. It's my film of the year so far; and here’s why.
Just seeing the trailer had me excited from the start. Set at some point in the future, time travel has been invented but immediately outlawed by the authorities, with only drug barons and gangsters using it, and for only one reason only: to send someone back to the past, to have them assassinated.
It's the little touches that elevate a film from being cool to being amazing, and Looper has them in spades. I could spend the rest of the review listing them, but instead I’ll cite just one. When Emily Blunt’s character is first introduced she is shown doing a strange mime which looks highly illogical, until later when it all becomes clear. You won't want to miss any of the details - you never know what could prove significant later on.
Looper is a creative move that isn't afraid to challenge its audience. At points you do feel it borrows a little too heavily from other movies, but really I can forgive it for that, like Wild Bill in Silence Of The Lambs, it’s controversial to wear other people's skins.
This is the question Looper asks us: if you had the chance to kill someone who was evil, a mass murderer, would you? Before they performed all their evil, before they could get started, would you be willing to take another human's life to save thousands of others?
What if they were still a child? Then what? Would you be willing to trade your own life so this murderer could live? Knowing they would become the personification of pain?
Now if that paragraph didn't challenge you, then maybe you need to know God better. I believe I would lay down my life for anyone else (after all it is the greatest gift we can give), but watching Looper, I was challenged about what I would do in the same circumstances. The predominant idea is a scary one, namely: How good are you? Truly in your soul, how good are you?
Looper is so much of a visual frenzy, full of distinctive ideas, that it demands a second viewing – there is simply too much to take in at first sight. For a start the plot charges towards you with no rest period from beginning to end and the story goes into some truly dark territories (the murdering of innocent children in cold blood, is a complicated sequence to justify), and the direction is in a league of its own.
Looper’s writer and director is a relative unknown in Rian Johnson, but is made with such precision, poise, grace and sophistication, it’s hard to imagine a Nolan or a Spielberg or a Scott didn’t have a hand in the creation somewhere. The style in which the film is made is second to none, every shot is framed perfectly and the camera work is fluid, the special effects well paced and somehow Johnson has set Looper in the future, but not in one we couldn’t imagine.
One of the film’s best assets is the two main leads, in Joseph Gordon Levitt (above left) and Bruce Willis (above right), both playing Joe in different time periods. Both of these men can carry a film all on their own, so when both join together, it is an unstoppable force (in Levitt’s climb to the top) with an immovable object (in Willis' charisma). Needless to say they both bring out the best in each other.
An interesting feature to the film is that you are always switching sides; there are points where young Joe is the hero, then old Joe, then young again. Ultimately, Looper is a movie without a hero, there is no clear cut good or bad, and it doesn’t pretend to give you all the answers.
I suppose one of the most impressive parts of Looper is that the film is out and out plain nasty, there are whole sequences that look like they could have walked out of any graphic horror movie you care to name, but of course they are only used to crank up the tension and build the film's momentum.
Looper is Back To The Future for adults – a film that doesn’t give you all the answers and does ask a lot of questions. It’s a thinking man’s movie, and I love it.
Get more inspiring reading
Our print magazine for INSPIRE is currently on hold while we explore new funding options for a relaunch later this year. If you'd like to be kept up to date with developments, ready to order the new title once it's available, email email@example.com