Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Looper is More than a Genre Film, this Film, and Rian Johnson proves the power of the screenplay

Looper (4 out of 5 Stars) 
Written and Directed by Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom, Brick)
Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt

Looper is more than a genre film, and Rian Johnson proves the power of the screenplay.  I often sound like a broken record when I talk about the power of good screenplay, but this film is one example that not only proves my point, it proves that there are original ideas that still exist in Hollywood films.

Looper is set within the year 2044, and "time travel is possible" but not in the specific time in which we see the film.  30 years in the future gangs are using time travel in order to kill people.  In the future it is possible to track people deaths so these gangs use time travel, and the loopers to carry out the executions.  When the gangs are done with the looper they send them back to the past to "close the loop" and have them executed.  Soon a new pattern starts to reveal that the loopers are starting to "close the loop" more and more frequently.  Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) comes face to face with a version of his older self played by Bruce Willis, but Old Joe runs and soon the gang is after both these men.

Rian Johnson is the master behind this film.  Johnson whose previous work includes the well written thriller Brick, and the dark comedy The Brother Bloom.  Johnson's tight screenplay is the biggest accomplishment of this film; he knows how to not only close the loop himself, but fully realize the intricate details of his film.  In this film Johnson explores the multiple aspects of the sci-fi genre, and the realistic darkness to a futuristic society.  Johnson points out that society has mutated even, some individuals have Telekinesis, or TK as it is referred to in this film.  As TK seems like a secondary focus within the film, Johnson never lets his script escape his grasp; he connects the dots well pulling together all of the dots, as though they were a precise plotting of a much larger story.

Societal devastation and exploitation are themes that run throughout this film.  The loopers are criminal elites like Joe who were found by the gang leader from the future.  These loopers pay their debt, and get paid to rid the world of those who challenge the mafia's power within this future world.  The background sets American society within a barren wasteland in 2044, and even though we do not see the world thirty years later (except for in some brief flash forwards) it gets even worse.  Powers that be like the Rainmaker control society in the future and take advantage of the sprawling bombed out urban society.

Johnson's script and direction are key players in bringing this world to life.  Bob Ducsay's editing brilliantly blends the complicated elements of the story.  There are moments when you feel that the complicated nature of the story could hold the film back, but Docsay's editing helps strengthen the power of the story, with quick cuts that blend the stories of young and old Joe.

Gordon Levitt and Willis have had a banner year.  Gordon Levitt appeared in The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, and will have a supporting role in Lincoln.  Willis has seen a career boost, his supporting role in Moonrise Kingdom showed his great comedic acting chops, while his role in this film, and Expendables 2 proved this guy is still a bad ass.  What sets this film apart along with the writing is the great on screen connection/chemistry between these two men.  There scene in the diner is proof that they needed no make-up to create a connection.  Blunt is also solid as Sara, a woman who connects these men on their own unique journeys.

Looper is a film that sounds complicated, but uses the simple undertones and great writing to create a world torn apart.  How do you repair things?  Can society evolve beyond what we set it up to be?  The film looks at the deeper meaning to issues within society.  This is not a silly sci-fi genre flick, but analyzes societal milieus, and how we pay a role in constant cyclical aspects.

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