The one benefit of flying to the other side of the world are all the movies I get to catch up on. Looper was one of those flicks.
I wanted this movie to be AWESOME. I wanted another Willis gem of a flick along the lines of 12 Monkeys, The 5th Element or 6th Sense. Perhaps that was expecting to much. After all, Willis hasn’t exactly killed it lately but he’s still capable of dominating a screen and delivering an incredible performance – which he does here in Looper.
What did I get? Not awesome. Not terrible either. It’s a frustrating movie.
Looper is a sci-fi/time-traveling romp into the world of assassins. Gordon-Levitt is an assassin whose job is to drive out to a specific location in the middle of nowhere and kill whoever pops up in front him. Crime bosses are sending back in time their targets. They pop up wearing a leather mock covering their head and upper body. They pop in. Assassins pull the trigger. They burn the body. They get paid by the crime bosses representative from the future (played brilliantly by Jeff Daniels). They go party hard.
Until of course the assassin kills himself sent back from the future. It’s called ‘closing the loop.’ At that point, the assassin knows he’s got 30 years to live and an even bigger party explodes. When assassins start closing the loop regularly, suspicions are raised that somebody is cleaning house in the future.
Enter Bruce Willis. He plays “Old Joe”, the older version of Gordon-Levitt. When “Old Joe” pops up without wearing a leather hood on – “New Joe” hesitates realizing something is wrong in the future and the game is afoot. Old Joe is on the hunt for a future killer called The Rainmaker. The Rainmaker is a child in New Joe’s reality.
Here’s where the movie gets frustrating. New Joe has no problem killing whoever pops up in front of him, partying hard, and basically living like a pagan. For some reason, he grows a conscience and decides to protect The Rainmaker.
This is also about the time that the tight film-making and sharp directing take a hard left turn into CrazyLand. The dialogue gets predictable and choppy. We get scenes that don’t advance the story and seem ridiculously out-of-place. We see multiple party scenes – even after it has been established that Young Joe is a hedonistic pig. We get three different versions of a killing that ultimately has no bearing on the story.
Furthermore, the Old Joe/Willis doesn’t even show up for the first 40 minutes of the film. It’s a stunning waste of talent. When ‘the money scene’ of Gordon-Levitt and Willis together happens, it fails miserably. No philosophical waxing on what is going on, no intense conversations about the future of humanity. No existential questions of who are you and what am I to become. Instead we get a “I’m a bigger/tougher/smarter than you are” contest to see whose…ego is bigger. It’s juvenile and leaves much to be desired.
Emily Blunt shows up in the back half of the film as well. She’s the mother of The Rainmaker (maybe, probably…yes…well… like I said, the film is frustrating.) Allow me to just say – this gal can act. I’ve seen her in Edge of Tomorrow, Into The Woods, and now this. She’s outstanding and her American accent is good although we obviously love her Aussie more. She delivers an outstanding performance of a protective mom and the tension between her and Gordon-Levitt gives the back half of the film some much-needed energy.
I was stuck on a plane for 13 hours so it killed some time. There’s a lot of blood and drugs and everything else that attempts to hide a story line that is full of potential but is never developed. You get the feeling that this movie wanted to be 12 Monkeys but never got the attention it needed. We get good but limited performances from Willis, Blunt, and Jeff Daniels but none of them interlock to make a bigger, grander story.
At the end of the day, it’s another action flick that hopes you won’t mind the rough writing.