Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Looper’ Review: Gordon-Levitt & Johnson Succeed in Action Thriller

“Looper” is the only film I’ve seen this year, where after watching just the first 10 minutes, I knew it was going to be a 5/5. This isn’t the first time director and screenwriter Rian Johnson has teamed up with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In 2006, Gordon-Levitt starred in “Brick,” which Johnson wrote and directed and was ultimately the film that put him on the map as a film actor. After watching “Looper,” I hope this is one actor-director duo that will do more work together in the future.

It’s 2044, time travel hasn’t been invented yet. In the year 2072, where time travel does exist, (but only on the black market), the mob uses it as a way to get rid of people, by sending them back 30 years to be finished off by loopers. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is a looper and everyday he is given a specific time and location to kill the mob’s latest target. Joe is stacking up on silver (his form of payment), hitting the clubs, doing drugs known as “drops” and occasionally hooking up with club dancer, Suzie (Piper Perabo).

The mob is known for sometimes “closing the loop,” meaning the looper’s future self is sent back in time, only to be killed by their own self. When this happens to Joe and his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back, Joe accidentally ends up letting him run, causing chaos for the both of them.

There are a plethora of reasons why this movie works and why it’s one of the best of the year. Gordon-Levitt completely transforms into his character. You can tell the actor studied the movements and gestures of action-superstar Bruce Willis. I felt like I wasn’t even looking at Gordon-Levitt. Yes, the prosthetics and make-up are incredible, (and I was totally digging those light-colored contacts on him), but it’s the actor that truly creates the young Joe. It’s one of the best performances I’ve seen of an actor this year. Just incredible.

The movie doesn’t dive into the whole idea of time-travel or get too “sci-fi” either, which ends up benefiting the overall film. Johnson allows the audience to focus on this amazing story he has created, as Gordon-Levitt carries the film from start to finish. There is a twist in the film that is completely unexpected and brilliant, as it brings an emotional depth to the story. I thought about this film for days after I watched it.

We also need to talk about Emily Blunt, here. The beautiful British star proves two things in “Looper”: 1.) She puts on one of the best American accents in the business and 2.) She can go from the glamourous fashionista in “The Devil Wears Prada” to farm-girl, shot-gun firing bad-ass.

We already know Willis is one mean action star, but it’s fun to see he and Gordon-Levitt bounce off of each other in the film, especially since they are playing the same person. They are playing the same person, but certainly not the same character, as the future self of Joe (Willis), has matured, is clean and is married. Some of the best scenes of the film are between Willis and Gordon-Levitt, especially one in which they are sitting at their favorite diner bickering with each other.

“Looper” is an unbelievably amazing story that director Rian Johnson brings to life beautifully. Gordon-Levitt takes on his most complicated role since 2011’s “50/50” and proves he measures up as one of the best actors working today.

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