Looper [2012]

Directed by: Rian Johnson
Written by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Tracie Thoms, Piper Perabo, Qing Xu, Garret Dillahunt

Who knew that phrase up there would end up being premonitory. What I meant with it was that I could very well cry tears of joy when watching one of my most anticipated movies of 2012. I never expected a sci-fi film about time-traveling assassins would move me to tears. Twice. But that’s the magic of Looper.

I think it’s amazing that the same movie had my heart beating fast, gave my neurons a full workout, made me cry more than once, and had me biting the side of my right index finger like a madman (yes, that’s what I do when I’m tense).

Rian Johnson’s latest is not perfect. At times it’s quite talky and you yearn for an action sequence, like the kind-of-misleading trailer told you there’d be tons of, but it’s a huge step up from The Brothers Bloom.

However, I loved the fact that the narrative doesn’t spell every single thing out for the viewer, and instead challenges him or her to do the work. It’s refreshing.

As I said before, the pace is slightly off but Johnson’s film is very well-structured, written, shot and scored. You can sense this was a project very dear to him. Most artsy thrillers are all about the brains, and most actioners are all about beauty and blowing things up. Looper is the best of both worlds.

Bruce Willis is a little out there, clearly channeling John McClane as Old Joe. As his young counterpart, though, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fantastic. Though the strange, unnecessary makeup may be on-again/off-again distracting, Joe’s got the Willis mannerisms and inflections down pat. He’s great in a year that also had him as the highlight (for me) in The Dark Knight Rises.

As you can deduct from my teary confession, the film is surprisingly poignant. You could say it’s the writing; that’s true. But there are two main reasons why the story’s so affecting. The first is Emily Blunt. The beautiful Brit goes American in a brilliant turn as a caring mother, scared to death (almost literally) for the well-being of her gifted child.

But it’s that kid, man, who steals the whole movie. Pierce Gagnon is nothing short of a revelation. He’s the embodiment of raw, innate talent and I can’t wait to see him blossom into a strong, more refined actor.

Looper is a riveting cinematic experience, one of those hits that actually deserve to be one. It sits comfortably among the best of the year (and I think it’ll remain in that position no matter what else comes out) and, if there’s any justice, would top it all off with a Best Picture nomination come January.