LOOPER poster Joseph Gordon Levitt

Rating: 4 of 5 ★★★★☆ 

There are so many things I want to say about Looper I don’t even know where to start.

The thing about good movies is that you can analyze them inside and out. You can draw out narrative parallels that maybe were or were not actually intended. You can talk in circles about character resonance or the way certain elements are achieved without having to hammer them into the audience. Looper stands up to that kind of scrutiny because it’s really well written, even though riddled with paradox, and well acted.

The thing that works so well about it is the authenticity. Emotionally, the way these characters react to these situations is very honest and sometimes funny and doesn’t pull any punches. Which makes the story not only believable but engaging.

So engaging that it’s easy to forgive the aforementioned paradoxes. I didn’t even notice until after the movie when I started thinking logically about it how things really didn’t add up. But even then it didn’t matter. Because the narrative is fascinating. All of the parallels between Joe and Cid, the fact that who the bad guy and good guy are changes so often but you always know in that moment who is who, the way elements are layered in so casually you forget about them until they matter immensely is what works so well. And I usually try not to get into specifics but I just so want to with this film.

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The most obvious paradox is that the inciting incident just doesn’t line up. The way the story is told there’s no catalyst for anyone to become the Rainmaker the first time around – the circular nature of the story, which is wonderful on a character level, doesn’t work logically.
ETA: ok, fine. Rian Johnson addressed this paradox quite neatly here.

But I liked the story Joe told Cid about his childhood and his relationship with his mother and how he ended up on a dark path and how he saw a boy getting set on a dark path. That was interesting. Actually, his entire little monologue at the end was an amazingly resonant climax because it truly brought all of the elements of the film together in one moment: A mother willing to die for her son. A man willing to kill for his wife and a boy set on a dark path.

I also loved what they did with Seth early on because it had such an effect on the main story. They conveyed what was happening without having to show anything gruesome. And yet it was still incredibly disturbing. So much so that, you didn’t want them to catch Bruce Willis but you really didn’t want them to catch Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

You could spend an hour going over the disparity between his scene with Piper Perabo and Emily Blunt; the way each scene was filmed and what it says about each woman and each relationship.

But all of that only exists and is worth discussing at length because this is a sci-fi / action film with depth. And it has that depth because it doesn’t neglect the characters for the sake of action or a fast plot or cool special effects, which most action and sci-fi movies do even when the genres don’t cross.

In Looper, the characters mattered. And because the characters mattered, because there was emotional resonance in the film, moments that could have been glanced over were disturbing. Because the characters matter choices have consequences that don’t just change the plot they change the characters and they change the audience’s relationship with the characters. Because the characters matter they have reasons for doing things which makes the plot believable even when it doesn’t make sense.

Looper is so much more than the preview would make it seem. Which is fantastic because even though it’s an intriguing, action packed preview it ends up being a film with a lot of depth. It isn’t entertaining in the sense that I would watch it again and again for fun. But it’s a good movie and really well made on a small budget and I’d watch it again.


October 6, 2012 | Review , , , | this post contains affiliate links

2 responses to “Looper

  1. Looper is up there in my top 10 of the year I think. Superb film. I love the fact that the sci-fi concepts are merely backdrops to what’s really going on in the film. Brilliant bit of cinema.

    • aj

      I totally agree about the sci-fi as a backdrop. So well done. I haven’t watched enough really good movies to have a top 10 this year, but if there were a list Looper would be right near the top of mine also.