10 Feb


Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 119 minutes

Rian Johnson is a 39 year-old native of Maryland who is building an impressive TV and film resume. His breakthrough was the film Brick in 2005 and since then he has worked impressively on the film The Brothers Bloom and the TV series Breaking Bad. With Looper he has delivered his best work to date. He wrote and directed it and in both departments his talent shines through. This is splendid stuff – a time travelling thriller that works on multiple levels.

As with Brick, the lead actor is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Here he plays a hitman for the mob, a so-called looper. He gets paid to kill enemies of the mob sent back from the future. He eliminates them and any problems that they might create down the road for criminal paymasters he has never met. It’s a complex business time travel and clearly a sci-fi device, but it sits perfectly in the middle of this story. Johnson balances high concept with serious drama and gets great performances out of Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis (as the aged hitman).

The encounter between the young and the old killer is the cornerstone of Looper. This is about boys becoming men and the importance of mentors along the way. Willis has a lot to tell his younger self, but Gordon-Levitt is too busy living fast to worry about the future. In that future Willis has found love and as such this story is also about having a love that you will kill or die for – holding it tight no matter what. The aged hitman needs to educate the younger man about living, but has to do so without losing his own life in the process.

There are big themes here, cleverly interwoven and built on a strong screenplay. Looper has been passed over in awards season, but Johnson deserves a lot of credit for his writing on this. The cast is strong and all of the actors deliver (with Gordon-Levitt and Willis playing off each other particularly well). This is an eye-catching, absorbing, well-paced and moving film – all things that I struggled to find in last year’s blockbuster Inception. And what a great starting point; what would your 55 year old self tell your 25 year old self if it could?

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