Monday, October 15, 2012
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Looper is the story of a time-traveling assassin who kills people in the past as he learns that his next target is an older version of himself. The film is a sci-fi thriller that explores the world of time travel and identity as it revolves around a young man dealing with his job and its implications where he makes a drastic discovery about who he is and who is he working for. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Noah Segan, Pierce Gagnon, Garret Dillahunt, Tracie Thoms, and Jeff Daniels. Looper is an incredible yet complex film from Rian Johnson.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a paid assassin called a looper whose job is to kill men who have been sent from the future under the orders of the mob. It’s a job that has kept Joe rich as he works for Abe (Jeff Daniels) who makes sure things are good as Joe is paid in silver and later gold once he kills a future version of himself. When one of his friends in Seth (Paul Dano) has left his future self (Frank Brennan) go, he becomes scared until Joe reluctantly hides him as Kid Blue (Noah Segan) arrives searching for Seth as Abe makes Joe an offer he couldn’t refuse. High on drugs and reeling from his work as a looper, Joe forges ahead to his next assignment where he suddenly faces his old self (Bruce Willis) who escapes and goes on the run. With Joe searching for his old self, he later meets his old self who has arrived from the future to kill their mysterious boss known as the Rainmaker.
With old Joe continuing on the run and goes on the search for the person that would become the Rainmaker, young Joe finds a location on a map that the old Joe had which leads him to a farm where a woman named Sara (Emily Blunt) lives with her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Young Joe decides to protect Sara and Cid from the other loopers and Old Joe who is searching for someone who could become the Rainmaker. While at the farm, a hired gunner from Abe in Jesse (Garret Dillahunt) arrives to find young Joe as young Joe and Cid hide out until Jesse later comes back where young Joe makes a chilling discovery about what Cid is. Realizing the implications of what would happen, young Joe decides to do whatever it takes to save Cid and Sara from old Joe and the other loopers.
What happens when a young man faces an older version of himself who comes from the future to stop something from happening? That’s sort of the idea of the film that writer-director Rian Johnson makes as it is about an assassin who is paid to kill future targets for the mob that he would never see and know about. When he faces himself who arrives from the future to stop someone would become this major mob force, the young man has to realize the implications of what might happen as it would lead to all sorts of trouble.
Johnson’s screenplay is quite intricate in terms of its narrative as it starts out in a straightforward manner to establish young Joe’s life in the first act where he is definitely a very troubled yet skilled assassin who is also a junkie. When he faces his old self, things become complicated as Johnson creates an alternate narrative that unveils what would’ve happened if the young Joe had killed his old self where it would chronicle Joe’s life as a killer and then finding salvation in a woman (Xu Qing) who would become his wife. Yet, it would drive the old Joe to go back in time to save his wife but also to stop the person that would become the Rainmaker as the second act is about the two Joes and the young Joe’s meeting with Sara. The third act is more interesting where it reveals more complexities about what the old Joe wants to do as well as the danger that is going to happen.
Johnson’s script doesn’t just feature a lot of complexities in terms of the characters that are created as well as its development. Notably in the characterization of Joe who deals with the fact that he’s just trying to do his job and try to kill his old self only to realize that ther is a life outside of the world of being a looper. Johnson’s approach to stylish dialogue definitely adds a sense of nuance to the script where it’s set in the future and there’s a lot of things that are happening that sets the rich and poor apart.
Johnson’s direction is definitely ambitious in terms of the presentation he aims for in creating a film that is set in the future. Shot on location in New Orleans and parts of Louisiana as Kansas along with scenes in Shanghai, Johnson goes for a lot of wide shots but also some interesting medium shots to establish a future that isn’t too far off but also slower in its development. Since it adds to the sci-fi elements of the film, it also gives Johnson the chance to create a future that doesn’t play to typical aspects of other sci-fi films by grounding it with a bit of realism.
The film’s element of suspense and action definitely plays to the story where it includes a key scene where the old Joe goes after one of his targets where Johnson knows what not to shoot in order to tell the story and then unveil the impact that follows. Even in the film’s third act where things become unveiled into what the two Joes are facing as it raises a lot of questions into what has to be done. Through these amazing wide shots along with some intimate close-ups of the characters, Johnson’s direction is very fluid in its movements along with the way he presents action scenes to get the audience aware of what is going on. Overall, Johnson creates a truly dazzling and mesmerizing sci-fi thriller that manages to be engaging in its high-brow concept.
Cinematographer Steve Yedlin does brilliant work with the film‘s colorful photography from the stylish nighttime interiors at the club Joe and his friends hang out to the more naturalistic look of the field scenes outside of the city. Editor Bob Duscay does excellent work with the editing by creating a montage early in the film to showcase young Joe‘s troubled life as well as some rhythmic cuts to play out the film‘s action and suspense. Production designer Ed Verreaux and art director James A. Gelarden do great work with the set pieces from the nightclub that Joe hangs out at to the farm that Sara lives along with props that adds to the sci-fi element of the film like the hover-motorcycle.
Costume designer Sharen Davis does nice work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual for both Sarah and old Joe while the younger Joe wears more expensive suits to establish his character. Makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji does some very good makeup work to have the two Joes look like each other with some prosthetic hair and such for the characters. Visual effects supervisor Karen E. Goulekas does some superb work with the visual effects from the exteriors of the futuristic Kansas City to the jaw-dropping sequences in the film‘s third act. Sound designer Jeremy Peirson does some fantastic work with the film‘s sound in the way some of the machines sound like along with the intimacy that is created in scenes at the farm.
The film’s music by Nathan Johnson is wonderful for its suspenseful driven score that is a mixture of electronic music and orchestral pieces as it features lots of bombastic themes as well as other dramatic moments. Music supervisor John Houlihan creates a terrific soundtrack that features all sorts of music ranging from acts like the Mashnotes, Kid Koala, Richard and Linda Thompson, Son Lux, and Warren Zevon.
The casting by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu is phenomenal for the ensemble that is created as it features some notable small performances from Tracie Thoms as a waitress young Joe sees every day at a diner, Nick Gomez as a fellow looper, Frank Brennan as the old Seth, Xu Qing as the old Joe’s wife, Garret Dillahunt as the hired gunner Jesse, and Piper Perabo as the showgirl Suzie who young Joe spends time with early in the film. Paul Dano is pretty good as the looper Seth who suddenly faces himself as he becomes scared of the consequences. Noah Segan is wonderful as the Gat Man Kid Blue who is trying to get things done in order to please Abe. Jeff Daniels is great as the crime boss Abe who tries to ensure that things are taken care of while making young Joe a tempting offer that would later cause a lot of trouble.
Pierce Gagnon is amazing as the young kid Cid who befriends the young Joe while revealing some things that would have the young Joe be very suspicious about. Emily Blunt is amazing as Cid’s mother Sara who tries to protect her son while helping the young Joe in realizing about what is happening in relation to her young son. Bruce Willis is outstanding as the old Joe who returns to his past from the future to find the Rainmaker and deal with his younger self as Willis brings a great sense of grit and weariness to the character. Finally, there’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt in an incredible performance as the young Joe where he tries to deal with his own issues as a person while realizing about the troubles of time travel when he faces his older self as it’s a really captivating performance from Gordon-Levitt.
Looper is a spectacular and thrilling film from Rian Johnson that features marvelous performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt. The film is definitely a sci-fi thriller that bears a lot of interesting concepts about time travel as well as the dangers of it. Even as it involves themes that raises a lot of questions about its dangers where it becomes a compelling suspense film. In the end, Looper is a superb film from Rian Johnson.
Rian Johnson Films: Brick - The Brothers Bloom - The Last Jedi - Knives Out
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