Friday, November 23, 2012

Looper


Let me begin this review by categorically stating that I’m not the biggest fan of action movies. It’s not that I mind the over-abundance of gun shots and car chases that you would normally expect in an action film – on the contrary, I actually enjoy an old fashioned bullet storm every now and then. What I don’t however admire is the tendency of action films to over indulge in the trademarks of the genre, most often at the total expense of good old fashioned storytelling and characterisation.The Sci-fi/action hybrid, Looper, is one of those rare action films that is courageous enough to step outside the comfort zone of the action genre, delivering a thought provoking and hauntingly plausible portrait of the not so distant future.

Calling the shots are Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as two very capable and hardworking hitmen from the future. Gordon-Levitt plays a younger version of Mr Willis that desperately tries to reclaim his good name amongst his employers, after his latest target manages to escape – something that doesn't bode well for someone working in the assassination industry. Without giving too much of the stellar premise away, I do however want to mention that time travel is a major plot mechanism in Looper. But rest assured, this overused sci-fi gimmick is treated in a fresh and exciting way that helps set Looper apart from other B-grade time travelling movies.

But a solid premise alone is not enough to keep a film afloat and luckily for Looper, it’s got much more going for it than a shiny idea. Stylistically speaking, Looper is deliciously dark, with only a few scarce instances of lighter dialogue to lighten the dire circumstances of the protagonist. Some of my favourite moments of the film are dead quiet and involve Gordon-Levitt simply contemplating his next and possibly final move – this is a great testament to the artistic profoundness of the film. In Looper, human life is depicted as being very fragile and it is this uncertain, suspenseful atmosphere that keeps the movie-goer dangling from a thin line of suspense throughout.

Also refreshing is Looper’s approach to its action sequences. Even though there are obvious sci-fi elements at work in the world of Looper, gun confrontations never feel over the top and unimaginable. Fans of gore can also rejoice, as Looper contains quite a few instances of gory disfigurement that are sure to leave you cringing from sheer delight.

But with all this said, Looper’s stand out aspect still needs to be discussed, namely its high degree of emotional resonance, thanks mainly to brilliant performances by Willis, Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt. Willis delivers an especially powerful and stirring performance as a hitman haunted by his actions and the interplay between him and the younger version of himself is extremely satisfying to watch. It’s in these scenes that the film’s most thought provoking questions about the impact of one’s choices in life arises, some of which will certainly leave you scratching your head.

In summary, Looper is an action flick with all the right ingredients to propel it beyond its clever premise, providing a big chunk of social commentary that will leave you and your friends contemplating the division between right and wrong. Brilliant stuff.

Highlight: When a target escapes, the people that need him dead opt for a very creative way to get their man. 

Don't recognise this handsome fellow? It's Gordon-Levitt with a ridiculous amount of make-up to make him look like a younger Bruce Willis. It's kinda creepy stuff, but you'll get used to it.