Looper – Review (Spoiler Free)

Looper Poster - WikipediaWhilst it’s not the masterpiece that many have described it as, Looper is still one of the most entertaining and stylish sci-fi films to have come out in recent years. Its opening first act had me completely engrossed; it’s slick, intelligent, and the cinematography looks great. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a Looper named Joe, his job is to eliminate targets that’ve been sent back through time by the mob. It’s a very profitable business for him, until the day they send back his future self (Bruce Willis) and he is required to kill him and then spend the next thirty years in a very comfortable retirement.  Except of course, things don’t go exactly to plan.

At the beginning the film struck me as being very neat and well thought out, but its tightness does start to lapse a little during the film as it goes on to introduce new elements which, whilst I thought were very well handled, still dragged the film away from its initial premise and weakened it a little in my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that this is a very strong and entertaining movie, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite use its full potential.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great in the lead role; he fights through a prosthetic designed to make him look more like Willis and delivers a performance that’s funny and sharp, whilst also doing a really great job of acting and mimicking Willis on his own terms. Bruce Willis himself does what he does best, and also delivers during the emotional challenges that his character faces. I was also a fan of Emily Blunt’s Sarah Connor-esque performance and Pierce Gagnon is very impressive as her troubled kid. It seems that there’s an abundance of fantastic child actors springing up at the moment, and Gagnon is another one to watch over the coming years. There’s possibly some great potential here.

Looper’s a fresh feeling science fiction film, which achieves that freshness with an intriguing first act, a great sense of style, and by intelligently drawing off many famous films that come from both within the genre, and from others such as film noir. It’s far from flawless, and in fact when put under scrutiny its plot holes and paradoxes come to light far too easily. But as the film itself tells us, this isn’t a complex examination of time travel, and although it’s nice to have a film that’s rigorously thought out, Looper still very much succeeds as a thoroughly entertaining experience.

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34 comments

  1. Well said, I think when one over thinks the time travel aspect of the film, then they also lose the simple fun of it all.

    1. Yeah this certainly is no Primer – which I don’t like anyway. Looper’s certainly aiming for fun rather than headache inducing complexity, but I do enjoy it when everything is well thought out.

      Back to the Future is in fact extremely good at getting things right despite being a summer blockbuster, I can only think of one serious error that’s made across the three films!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Good one – I loved this!

    1. Cheers, glad that you’re also a fan!

  3. Natalie P · · Reply

    Great review 🙂 I would definitely agree that the beginning was much tighter and it did lapse towards the end. How do you think it compares to Willis’ other time travel film, 12 Monkeys?

    1. Thanks Natalie! I still haven’t seen Twelve Monkeys yet. It’s on that long old list of ‘to see films’!

  4. Nice review. It makes more sense about it’s premise than you’d expect, but the whole treat of this movie is the cast, the crew, and the superb writing that shows you can do anything with enough inspiration.

    1. Cheers. I was worried that I was going to be disappointed by Looper after the extreme praise that it received, but you’re right, all of those elements made this one pretty special!

  5. You’re right, the movie’s definitely not waterproof… but to its credit, its so entertaining, that you dont want to go looking for issues, and you forgive the ones that rear their ugly heads. The performances and the story are both great. Winds up a fascinating watch!

    1. Yeah I forgive it its flaws because it held me so entertained! Some people rate it higher than Inception, but I can’t give it that. You?

      1. No. Inception trumps it – If for no other reason than the phenomenal special effects. I’d rate Inception much higher, I think.

        1. Yeah, Inception is a fantastic film and Looper isn’t quite in the same league. Still, they’re both amongst the best that their genre has produced in the last ten years. Joseph Gordon-Levitt sure picks his films well!

  6. I agree with you that the film’s latter half feels very different from the first. It went into a completely different direction. Yet, Looper remains one of my fave from last year. Glad to see you liked it as well. Great review.

    1. Thanks! Yeah I kind of wish that the film stuck with its original direction, but I have to admit that when a film can surprise and entertain me the way Looper did then fair enough, it’s done it’s job well.
      Thanks for commenting!

  7. I pretty much felt the same as you did about this one. It wasn’t perfect, but it was still good. The performance by the kid, Pierce Gagnon, was pretty amazing.

    1. Yeah he was, everyone did a great job. I didn’t even mind Paul Dano who I have heard several people didn’t like.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  8. Very entertaining, indeed. Really liked this one. It was tense and surprisingly emotional. The acting, especially by Blunt and Gagnon, was superb.

    1. Yeah it was pretty great 😀 Blunt and Gagnon were excellent but I also thought JGL did a great job both mimicking Willis and as his own character.

  9. I enjoyed Looper. I can’t help but ask, “What would it have done different to ‘use its’ full potential’?”

    1. SPOILERS
      I think that it displayed really great potential with an intricate, exciting, and fresh feeling premise. The introduction of the TK element, as well handled as I thought it was, then made the film feel a little more generic to me, the inclusion of superpowers took away from that feeling that the film initially gave off and I just think that it could have been improved by streamlining it.

      It was still really good, and very enjoyable though.

      1. SPOILERS! Woah!? The movie was dependant upon the TK element. To suggest to take that away is on par with suggesting taking away the looping. (I’ve only seen the movie once and it’s been a few months.) Are you suggesting looping isn’t super? Also, what do you mean “streamlining it?”

        1. The looping was a really neat idea, and considering that they went with the TK storyline, I thought they did a good job. It just felt stronger before that became part of the plot that’s all. If they streamlined the film down to only being about one sci-fi element – time-travel, rather than having time-travel as well as superpowers also mixed in, then they could have had a tighter and more original film.
          I’ll stress again though that I am a fan of this film. Wouldn’t want to get people thinking otherwise!

          1. First – TK was mentioned in the first five minutes. B) – Time travel is analagous to a super power, in my mind. Three – TK was instrumental to the entire movie. D – You’re basically suggesting removing the antagonistic force of the film, so what would the antagonist be? It seems to me with your suggestion the film would be lacking an important element. By saying streamline down you’re essentially saying “remove subplot, b story and get rid of the antagonist.” So, how are you replacing these things in your theoretical realm?

        2. SPOILERS
          I know it was mentioned early on, which was a really nice plant, but I’m referring to when it became part of the plot (when the kid ripped that guy apart). Yeah I see your point about Time travel being a superpower, but within Looper it seemed to separate time travel as a scientific machine based phenomena, and TK as a traditional superpower that comes from within a person.
          I’m aware that TK was a key part, but I wouldn’t suggest to simply remove that element, they could have just worked it differently. Ultimately the TK is only there to explain what threat the kid poses, otherwise the plot plays out pretty much the same.
          I understand that the kid’s TK plays an important part in upping the stakes of the film, and as I have previously said – I thought that it was well handled. However it did as a device make the film feel a little more generic to me, and considering how fresh the film felt, I thought that this was a step into more familiar territory.

          1. On the first point, someone had to build the machines.
            I think it’s easy to say “they could have just worked it differently.” How? First you seemed to suggest including the TK was too much. Now, you seem to suggest including it is fine, just in a different way, because (as I would agree) it ups the stakes and conveys a message that you can thwart someone else’s misuse (or evil use) of a special ability by thwarting your own? In other words, you can end the cycle of evil begetting evil, but you to start with yourself.

        3. Sorry if I was confusing. By ‘change that element’ I simply meant that they could have assigned a different threat to the kid which wasn’t superpowers, worked the threat differently. Therefore it wouldn’t have gone into the slightly more generic territory. Think Terminator 2 – the kid has no powers but still poses a tangible threat to the robots in the future.
          Also I’m not going to start suggesting different alternate threats that the kid could pose, I was simply commenting on how they could have chosen one which felt slightly less generic.

  10. I liked the world of Looper and it’s a good movie, although not a personal fave. It would be interesting if this ended up as trilogy because there are a lot ideas and stories to be told such as what happens to the kid when he grows up.

    1. Yeah it’s certainly a very well realised world with lots of possibilities for other films. I reckon that I wouldn’t want to follow the kid but instead have a completely new set of characters etc. Perhaps there could be subtle references to the grown up kid?

  11. one of the better films of the year I thought. had opportunity but was pretty entertaining as it was original.

    nice review.

    1. Thanks, I would agree that it was amongst the better films of last year, although there are quite a number that I would put ahead of it.

  12. One of the better modern directors working today IMO. Also I want to buy a blunderbuss.

    1. I haven’t seen anything else that he’s done – seems that I need to fix that soon!
      The blunderbusses were awesome 😀

      1. That Johnson cat is actually from the town I am living in. Brick is pretty great sort of modern noir also starring JGL and shot right here in town.

        1. That’s pretty cool!
          I’ll have to check out Brick then, sounds good.

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