Looper

Slate.com

“How’s your French? Slow.”
“How’s the coffee? Burnt.”

There are so many good lines in “Looper” but, for some reason, I remember that one between waitress Beatrix and Joe.
First things first, I really do need to see this movie again.
I was finally able to listen to the Hollywood Prospectus podcast about the movie, which I knew there would be spoilers in, and Andy Greenwald dropped a very interesting Easter Egg that he thought he saw during an early scene.
How did I not see that? This movie better be playing at the budget theater, stat. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be worth paying full price, even twice in a row, but who can really afford that? Not me.
Luckily I have enough thrill from the film’s magic and plot to analyze for a while.
I was expecting an action flick with a time-travel theme and for it to definitely be good. I love “Brick” by writer/director Rian Johnson and his episodes of Breaking Bad so I just knew I was in for a treat.
But it’s so much more. The visual effects, the wit, the mystery, Emily Blunt, Old Joe, Young Joe, Jeff Daniels, and a kid that can be cute and creepy at the same time.
Basically, the plot you need to know is listed on sites like IMDB:

In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.”

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a fake nose) is the Looper who eventually encounters his future self to close out his career and move to France. The nose is to make Joe look like Bruce Willis/Old Joe.
It works once you get used to looking at it, but still never really made a match between the two actors for me. Maybe it was the eyebrows.
Gordon-Levitt’s performance, along with Emily Blunt’s and Daniels’ stood out in the film. Johnson made some smart casting choices. One shortcoming, while I can’t think of another actor who could have played Willis’ role, is I feel like I’ve seen his performance before in other films.
Once Joe and Old Joe have their first encounter, the film is a chase through time that challenges two versions of the same person against each other. It’s an internal battle as much as it is an external battle with people who control the Loopers closing in as they try to fix everything the way they want it.
Joe, at least initially, wants his silver and the next 30 years of his life after closing the loop. Old Joe is not ready to let go yet and has some unfinished business.
What is at risk is what stands between him and his younger self and people who Joe has developed relationships with in his life outside of being a hitman. Or, he could develop relationships with them in the future.
Joe (the younger one) I think, is ultimately in control. He just has to decide what he is willing to give up in the present at the risk of ruining his future plan.
There is some confusion in the plot, as can be expected with any futuristic story that explores time travel, , but Johnson brings it full circle.
I didn’t know how long “Looper” would last in the theater, not because it’s a bad movie, but because people who don’t absolutely love science fiction, someone in the cast or the director may not give it a chance.
Now having seen it I recommend people — no matter what your taste in movies is — take that chance.
Johnson has managed to take a film with so many components and genre samples and make it for a universal audience.
I am feeding off the Hollywood Prospectus podcast again here, but I do need to stress how Emily Blunt’s performance really took the film to another level. It was the component to the film that, I think, makes it accessible for everyone to have a benefit in their viewing experience.
I’ve liked all of Blunt’s roles, but this one will push her more into leading lady territory.
Johnson clearly has it together when in charge of a script and behind the camera and I also want to see more from him. He doesn’t appear to have any titles on the way, but that’s okay with me. “Looper” is worth a second, and maybe even third look.

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