by Jordan Ruimy
One thing you first notice in Rian Johnson’s Looper is how it builds up its sense of dread with each successive, tension-filled scene. Nobody is safe here. The plot only builds up as layer after layer is revealed until the film’s final shot. It’s a hell of a ride and easily one of the best films of the year. Then why no mention of a possible Oscar Nomination for Johnson’s visionary picture? You see, Science Fiction isn’t something the academy has warmed up to in its 83 year history. Sure it rewarded Peter Jackson’s “The Return Of The King” but what else did it reward before or after that? “Looper” is the kind of movie that can sometimes trip on its own ambitions but its originality is contagious, creating a new world we’ve never seen before. Credit must go to writer/director Johnson who after showing capable signs of flair in his first two films (“Brick” and “The Brothers Bloom”) finally hits one out of the park.
The film tells the story of Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a hit-man for an organized crime syndicate tasked with assassinating targets sent from the future. They arrive from the future and bang with one shot they are dead. That is his job. Not complicated at all. That is until Joe’s mob boss Abe (slimily played by Jeff Daniels) hints that the Rainmaker, a criminal mastermind from 2074, is closing the loops. That means he’s sending Loopers back from the future to be killed by their younger selves. Just to hide evidence of the bloodshed. Joe’s good buddy and fellow Looper Seth (an incredibly paranoid Paul Dano) is first in line to encounter his old self. He chokes, let’s his future self go and is now being chased by Abe’s gang with dire consequences. Joe is next and accidentally lets old Joe (a never better Bruce Willis) slip away. You see, Old Joe has a plan in mind. Find the rainmaker as a kid, kill him and set his future right.
You got that? I hope you do. It’s a tremendously thrilling story that leads to Young Joe taking shelter at a family farm with a single mother (a tremendous Emily Blunt) and a kid that -you guessed it- might just be the Rainmaker. Joe is waiting for his future self to show up at this farm so he can shoot him, kill him and continue on with his work as Looper.
The imaginative thought that went into the screenplay is a breath of fresh air that puts any other recent Science Fiction film to shame and Joseph Gordon Levitt -as good an actor as any around at the moment- does wonders with his role. Don’t expect a mind numbingly hammering experience such a the one experienced in Christopher Nolan’s ambitiously brilliant but flawed “Inception”, if you do pay attention to Johnson’s linear story it can be followed and make a lot of sense. No review should ruin the film’s many surprises but suffice to say Looper’s many twists are already being analyzed and debated by film fans. A sure sign that you’ve made a movie that is here to stay.
I haven’t heard any Oscar buzz on this film which is a real shame. Many critics will have the film in their top ten lists and maybe -just maybe- with a decent push from the studio it can end up getting the 8th or 9th spot with the other nominees ala “District 9” from a few years ago. Yes, I know, I might be dreaming a little but the movie is just too damn good to be dismissed as just popcorn fare. Its got the fan base and the critics on its side, now if only the Academy would join in. I’m sure some readers must agree with me?