Looper (2012)

Watchable

Content written by Tony Macklin. Originally published on September 25, 2012 on tonymacklin.net.

Looper is stylish mayhem.

It careens along the edge of silliness. It stalls and starts and spins out. It's a spastic attack on its audience's suspension of disbelief.

Who knew the future could contain so much hokum?

The cast fights mightily to try to keep the movie from blowing apart. Piper Perabo even takes off her top. Maybe she should stick to acting.

Looper is set in Kansas in 2044 and other places at other times. It doesn't much matter where we are or where it is.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the loopy looper, has to time travel into another time to kill himself (Bruce Willis) so that he doesn't make bad movies. No, that's not it. So he can avoid Demi Moore. No. Oh, forget it.

Loopers are sent by the "mob" to assassinate criminals who might incriminate them in the future. They do their killing with blunderbusses. The film pays homage to blunderbusses in that it too is a blunderbuss. No accuracy from afar.

Old Joe (Willis) has to shoot a child to prevent him from growing into The Rainmaker, which seems an overly harsh reaction to Dustin Hoffman. But have no fear - or sense - young Joe goes there to try to save a woman (Emily Blunt) and her bad seed son (Pierce Gagnon).

Looper asks the question, can a mother's love save a ridiculous movie? No, that's not it. Can a bad seed be turned into a sweet Fruit Loop?

No wonder the kid is screwed up. He thinks his mother is her sister.... Where's Jack Nicholson when we need him? He'd smack some sense back into the movie.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt dashes about willy-nilly firing at anything that moves. He takes drugs in eye drops, which may be the reason he put on contacts and so much make-up.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favorite actors. When I saw his brilliant performance in Mysterious Skin (2004), I predicted that some day he'd win an Oscar. His strength is a compelling sensitivity - I don't mean the kind of sentimentality he exhibited in (500) Days of Summer (2009).

But he seems to like to appear in movies in which gravity doesn't much matter. Recently he seems drawn to motion and flash - not the best background in which to evolve as an actor.

Bruce Willis is Joe grown-up, and like younger Joe he blasts everything in sight. The chemistry between Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is awkward. Where's Mos Def when we need him?

In Looper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt appears in a movie with an actor with whom he once had great chemistry. Jeff Daniels, who plays the honcho of the loopers, appeared with Gordon-Levitt in The Lookout (2007). The Lookout is a much better movie than Looper. But the latter will make a lot more money.

Emily Blunt portrays Sara, the woman with a son, whom Joe tries to save from himself. Blunt is not comfortable cursing. She's lousy at swearing. And this movie needs credible swearing.

Wizardly writer/director Rian Johnson creates a vivid visual experience. But it's more flash than sense. Don't pull back that curtain. I imagine when he pitched the plot to the producers, he put them in a trance.

It's corpses and splatter, oh my.

Johnson puts the warp in time warp. The plot is clever, but it lurches. Flashbacks and flash-forwards are fine as long as they cohere, but when the characters seem baffled, they may not be at their optimum.

And Johnson keeps one character Kid Blue around so that every time his film slows a bit, he can kill him off again. Noah Segan plays Kid Blue. Johnson directed Segan previously in Brick (2005). This reprise shows that loyalty may be overrated.

Johnson might have been better off to kill Kid Blue once and be done with him. He's pretty dull.

The "surprise" climax of Looper occurs near a cornfield in Kansas.

The Scarecrow loves this movie. He's still looking for a brain.


You might be interested in reading my most recent reviews, all of my reviews from this year, or all of my reviews from last year.

For a change of pace, you might want to listen to interviews that I conducted in the 70s and 80s, some of which were published in my book Voices from the Set: The Film Heritage Interviews (2000).


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