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LOOPER

SYNOPSIS:
In the near future, 2044, a group of hit men called Loopers work for a crime syndicate in the further future. Their bosses send targets back in time, and the Looper's job is to shoot them and dispose of the body. The target vanishes from the future, 2074, and the Looper disposes of a corpse that technically doesn't exist. When they want to 'close the loop' on Joe (Bruce Willis), they send him back as the target for his younger assassin self (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). But the older Joe has settled down to a happy life with a happy wife (Qing Xu) in China and doesn't want to be terminated and the younger Joe is in hiding with Sara (Emily Blunt) on her remote corn farm. The sentinels protecting the criminals in 2044, led by Abe (Jeff Daniels) will not tolerate attempted escape from the system.

Review by Louise Keller:
Set in a world where time travel is fact and memories are possibilities, Looper continually messes with your head as the future physically catches up with the past. With The Brothers Bloom (2008), writer and director Rian Johnson showed he could come up with interesting ideas and here, he has imagined a large-scale concept in its own sordid reality in which hit men (or Loopers) are hired to eliminate targets sent back in time from the future.

If you don't grasp everything at first, don't worry, there is time to catch up with the tricky details as the protagonist Looper, Joe (charismatically played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), comes face to face with his older self (Bruce Willis, perfectly cast) and has major decisions to make. I love the boldness of the concept and was stimulated by the brain buzz required to keep abreast of things despite being occasionally baffled by the complexities.

There's incongruity when Joe (Gordon-Levitt) stands beside the remote Kansas cane fields practising his French conjugation before his kill target suddenly appears. It is 2044, and Joe lives in a world where drugs are administered by eye drops and security wands resemble light sabres.

The film's piece de resistance arrives in the shape and form of Bruce Willis as older Joe, who comes from the future wanting to change something from the past. I especially like the scene in which the two Joes size each other up in the diner. The subtle moulding of Gordon-Levitt's nose in profile to match Willis' familiar features is a clever sleight of hand.

The main action takes place on a remote farm where Sara (Emily Blunt) lives with her young son Cid; Pierce Gagnon as Cid delivers an extraordinary performance that is both endearing and terrifying. Blunt is likeable as always and there's good chemistry with Gordon-Levitt. Jeff Daniels is good value as Abe, the head honcho from the future who makes tough decision.

This is one of those films which you will either love or hate. I was intrigued and fascinated; the resolution strikes like a bolt of lightening, after rumbles of thunder during a storm.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Here's how I imagine the short pitch went: Time travel is invented but made illegal - a bit like genetic engineering - but Big Crime gets hold of it and uses it as an effective assassination mechanism. "People are going to go crazy over it, let's do this," said producer Ram Bergman (true), and Rian Johnson was on his way to make what had been an idea for a short, a big budget feature film.

With its built-in 'what if' scenario, the premise easily falls into the science fiction genre, although I would leave out the 'science' bit. Fanciful, sure, interesting, to an extent, and dramatically viable .... well, only if your audience is ready to suspend all logic and accept that a young and an old version of Joe could inhabit the same time and place. And argue, swear and fight. Sooooo, if you are still with this, you'll be pleasantly surprised how well Looper is made. It's a thriller with fantasy elements and if you disregard (or don't care about) the internal confusion of its world, you may find it works for you.

One of my favourite elements is the clever, subtle, even artful way that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's appearance is gently revised to match the characteristic Bruce Willis nose shape, his mouth and his eyes. It's actually no small thing, as it despatches that devil lurking in the detail; at least on that account.

Also to like are the performances, with Gordon-Levitt excellent as the younger Jo, credible even as a killer. Well, he doesn't have to look his targets in the eye. Bruce Willis comes pretty well as previously packaged, and the screenplay allows him to adds some texture to his action man character.

Emily Blunt makes a terrific American heroine, fighting for her young son Cid. Now Cid is something, or rather the young actor playing him, Pierce Gagnon. He should have star billing; this kid is destined for a great career if he is well managed. Scary and complex, Gagnon has a significant presence in the film - and a significant role in the plot.

A salt & pepper bearded Jeff Daniels is outstanding as Abe, the gang's enforcer in the present (2044), Paul Dano weirdly wonderful as Seth the tragic Looper who can't bring himself to shoot his older self, and Garrett Dillahunt edgy as the freakish henchman Jesse.

Despite all its better attributes, the film doesn't work for me; I find it tediously silly as a story and can't overcome its inherent stumbling blocks. Nor does it move me, even though at the end there is a small emotional payoff.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LOOPER (MA15+)
(US, 2012)

CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Dano, Tracie Thoms, Han Soto

PRODUCER: Ram Bergman, James D. Stern

DIRECTOR: Rian Johnson

SCRIPT: Rian Johnson

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steve Yedlin

EDITOR: Bob Ducsay

MUSIC: Nathan Johnson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ed Verreaux

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 27, 2012







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