Love of Looper
Ah Looper, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. A time travel thriller set in a dystopian near-future, where a hitman-of-sorts (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is tasked with murdering his future self (Bruce Willis), while simultaneously protecting a child the future self is trying to murder. Throw into the mix telekinetic mutations, a twisted love story and an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind type memory warp, and you've got one hell of a sci-fi mess. Yet, helmed by cult hero Rian Johnson, the pieces of this misshapen puzzle are handled with such ease that it's only afterwards you realise he'd been juggling chainsaws, grenades and crying babies.
What's required of a film like this is a succinct and sleek presentation of its internal logic; the rules by which the characters play. Only with that obligation cleared are you free to philosophise. The audience needs that foundation to be able to buy whatever it is you're selling, which is, in this case, musings about fate, destiny and personal redemption. The truly amazing thing is that the construction of this world is in no way made a chore, where all of the salient logical qualms are settled seamlessly by a noir-ish quip from Gordon-Levitt's narration. Johnson has truly done all of the work for you.
Speaking of which, the largely in-camera special effects are a beautiful thing to behold. In particular the harrowing scene in which a side character's future self tries desperately to scurry to a meeting point as his past self is slowly dismembered. All of which is shown on-screen as the future self slowly loses his fingers, nose and feet... Oh yes. All of the subtle details put into this gritty future landscape are reminiscent of its colleagues amongst sci-fi's best: Blade Runner and 12 Monkeys.
While it all sounds very bleak, there is a lot of fun to be had in Looper. A lot of it stems from the unique characterisations: Emily Blunt's hardened, but quirky single-mum, Jeff Daniels' haggard mafioso and especially the interplay between the enlightened Willis and the impetuous Gordon-Levitt. It's not as though anyone needs any more proof of Gordon-Levitt's skill, but if you did, his Bruce Willis impression is spot on and he's so comfortable in the role that he genuinely gives the character some emotional weight.
Poignant, introspective and hilariously self-aware, Johnson is a master of genre. Looper is great. Go and see it.