In my opinion, Looper is one of the most forgotten and under-rated movies. Whenever we talk about the best modern sci-fi, we talk about Inception, Source Code, Ex Machina, The Matrix, Twelve Monkeys, but never Looper. Even when we talk about the best movies of its leads, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, we talk about 500 Days of Summer or 50-50, The Die Hard Series and The Devil Wears Prada respectively. But Looper is almost always certainly overlooked and forgotten in such discussions.
It’s a shame really truly. Looper is a well-crafted, genius, inventive and bold and innovative movie that is refreshing and unflinchingly shows that a science fiction movie can have a story, a well-crafted and well-acted drama story with a ground work of science fiction. And that a science fiction movie doesn’t have too incorporate a science fiction plot or delve into the mechanics of the movie’s science(In this case, Time Travel) in order to be a good science fiction movie. Most people, after watching this movie, whine how the time travel mechanics are never cleared up or were too vague. Those people, I believe truly missed the essence of the movie. Because writer, director Rian Johnson himself has stated that Time Travel is only a part of the overall narrative and the movie is not a study of time travel. And all the characters in the movie, when faced with the question about time travel, very carefully deflect it, with the most memorable one being, “We would be sitting here all day making diagrams with straws.” But there are some details given, some background given as to how time travel functions a bit, leaving us with only an outline and allowing us to work on the nitty gritty details. And that’s just how it should be. It satisfies you, but leaves you curious as well.
Looper has some of the best writing, acting and direction combination of any movie I’ve seen. One of the best, up there with The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Half Nelson, Sideways, Good Will Hunting and so many more. Its script is tight. It has no branching side plots or complicated characters. Looper is a mix of sci-fi, drama, neo-noir and thriller. It’s a fast movie, it has to be, but it gives time to its characters. Carefully showing their motivations, their lives, how they think, what they think and so on so forth. The characters feel natural and organic and sympathetic and the moments in the movie hit you hard. The script alone would be powerful enough to hit you, but the sheer class of writing and acting make it more impactful.
Rian Johnson is undoubtedly the star of the movie. He wrote and directed it. Which meant, he made up the world he has set Looper in, he made it come to life, he cooked up the story, he told the actors how to act out their characters, he told where to film the scenes. All in all, Rian Johnson is like a one man army. It gives me so much confidence that Johnson is helming Star Wars Episode 8. Disney might not be able to go much better than this guy. His scenes are beautiful. His words are engrossing. His characters are motivated. And most of all, there is boldness in his writing and direction, which shows in the choices his characters make.
Looper is set in 2044, and instead of showing an advanced, almost cybernetic world, 2044 is more like an advanced slum. There is technology, no doubt, but Kansas is a dump. There are beggars, prostitutes, garbage, thievery you name it. It is this unconventional setting that pulls you in from the start. It intrigues you, coupled with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s narrative. What kind of a world is this? Is this really the future? Seems crappy. Let’s see more. The setting is so unconventional. I’m pretty sure half the production must have had a heart attack. But then again, Johnson makes bold choices.
Acting wise, this movie is top class. The actors have intensity, clear motivations, and don’t mince with their feelings. They cry, get mad, grow angry et cetera et cetera. Joseph Gordon Levitt once again proved with this movie that he deserves a better crop of films. His acting was so confident, so subtle and nothing too pretentious.
Bruce Willis’ acting in this movie really makes you wonder. Why the hell does this man still do crappy action movies that are critically reviled when he has amazing acting chops? Bruce Willis kept his own in the movie and showed why he was the senior most actor in the movie and deserved his role. Something similar goes for Emily Blunt. Given her skills, you look at her filmography list and wonder why she hasn’t done better roles.
But the real star of the movie is Pierce Gagnon as Cid, the son of Emily Bunt’s character, Sarah. He is the new Haley Joel Osment in AI. I have the deepest and most amazing respect for Pierce Gagnon. He was seven when he starred in Looper. And the kind of acting he pulls off shows just how much talent Pierce Gagnon has. He outshined the three major actors in his moments. He is the backbone on which Looper found wide success and a powerful third act. I act as well, in theatre. But the amount of skill Pierce Gagnon brought is unimaginable, for me.
The supporting cast as well, Paul Dano, Noah Segen, Paul Daniels are fantastic as well. The praises heaped for the leads apply to them as well. Even though they have small roles, they make you remember the acting as a cohesive whole rather than discrete parts.
In today’s time, Science Fiction is a genre plagued by its own legacy. Ever since we’ve known science fiction, we’ve associated it with big action sequences, massive production values and sets, philosophy and complicated science theories. So most science fiction movies of now a days falter under the weight of the genre’s legacy. We’ve seen so many movies failing for being too trite and repetitive. So may movies that have tried to be big and bold, in sets and have failed, like 2012, Independence Day: Resurgence, Battlefield Los Angeles, the Divergent and Hunger Games and Maze Runner series to name a few. The directors try to evoke the same sense of awe we have for the science fiction movies made years ago. Sadly, they fail, because they don’t understand their own sensibilities and abilities in making those movies.
Looper, Ex Machina, Inception, Primer have brought the science fiction genre back on track. I feel they’ve given the genre some much needed new direction, away from the massive production values and sets and scopes of the old movies, like Star Wars, 2001, Blade Runner, Dark City and so on. Of all the movies that have given the genre new direction, Looper stands as one of my favourite. I won’t shy away from saying this, but Looper is, for me a better movie than both, Primer and Inception.
Looper is the kind of movie that really makes you feel. It hits you right in the gut. It’s dark, it’s gritty, but it leaves an awkward smile on your face. Also, before I end this, Looper has quite possibly one of the most amazing, “OH MY GOD”, “THIS MOVIE IS THE BESTSSTSTSTSTSTST” ending ever. No really, I know friends who re-watched the last twenty minutes of this movie twice, because the ending is just that good. It’s a movie worth watching at least once. And then a couple hundred times more before you die!
Looper! Oh the memories attached with the first time I saw this film. Just came back home after my JEE-Advanced paper, my dad was packing to go abroad, I got home two Subs and had a kilo of pasta made(giving the JEE-Advanced was a big deal). It was 2 June, 2013, that amazing day.
Looper had been on my list for a lot of time, i was just waiting to get JEE-Advanced over with to finally enjoy it. And on 3 June, 2013, it finally got off! Finally! And I marvelled at this film!
A beautiful and impactful film. I’ll be damned if there has ever been a more innovative or original sci-fi movie made in the past so many years. Like I said, this movie beats Primer and Inception, both for me. This movie is fantastic!