TIFF 2012: Rian Johnson's 'Looper' is Sci-Fi Time Travel Excellence
by Alex Billington
September 6, 2012
"You know the rule: never let your target escape." Holy crap this movie is awesome. That's how I'm going to start this, because it's really the first thing that came to mind as the credits started rolling. It also came to mind multiple times while watching it, during some of the badass action moments, and during some of the more brilliant, but not overly complex, time travel elements. Filmmaker Rian Johnson's third feature film (after Brick and The Brothers Bloom) is Looper, an excellent time travel sci-fi action adventure starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mobster in the past who meets himself from the future. And oh, is it awesome.
I must admit that Rian Johnson is already one of my favorite filmmakers, thanks to his first two movies. With Looper, he continues to mature as a director, and continues to show just how original, exciting, and talented he is as a storyteller. From the concept of a world with time travel to the twist of the plot involving him encountering himself, to where it ends up (and I won't dare spoil it, because this is one of those movies you must experience without being ruined in advance). The less you know going in, the better, because it just gets better as the story goes on. Thankfully our video blog recap on Looper is completely spoiler-free.
After first seeing the movie (back in Los Angeles originally, again at the Toronto Film Fest, I've seen it twice now!) we recorded a video blog featuring Peter Sciretta & Germain Lussier of SlashFilm and myself:
Rian Johnson's Looper succeeds the most in its script, which Johnson painstakingly took years writing and researching. It shows, as nearly every line of dialogue, every moment, is cleverly crafted within a freshly original and exciting futuristic world. And that's not even getting into the time travel elements. He plays with time travel in ways we have never seen before, and in ways we have seen before, but it's still used to enhance rather than weigh down the story. And there are moments where even I audibly gasped "awesome!" when he pulls a time travel trick that only someone as bold as Johnson could actually execute without turning out cheesy. I know I'll be revisiting certain scenes time and time again just to see how it all works.
Of course, the other highlights of Looper are its cast - Joseph Gordon-Levitt as young Joe, who is perfect, and Bruce Willis as old Joe. This might just be my favorite performance from Bruce Willis out of the last 10 movies he's been in. Jeff Daniels is also one of the best parts, giving a uniquely dark, but still likeable performance as the boss - pay close attention to his lines. Finally, Emily Blunt really takes this to another level, giving the truly underrated, nuanced performance of the film. I have an even greater appreciation for her than I did before. It is worth seeing for all of them. But also because it's pure time travel awesomeness.