Saturday, October 13, 2012

Looper (Rhoades)

“Looper” Delivers
In Deadly Reverse

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

You get the message that Bruce Willis is aging when he appears in a movie about old action heroes called “The Expendables” and when his latest role is a character listed in the credits as Old Joe.
Turns out, there’s a Young Joe too – for this is a sci-fi movie about time travel.
“Looper” is kinda like “Back to the Future” backward. Or “Time Traveler’s Wife” Meets “The Terminator.”
In it, an assassin called Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for the Kansas City mob, knocking off troublesome guys sent back from the future by the big bosses in Shanghai. Problem is, one of the targets from the year 2074 turns out to be his future self – i.e. Old Joe (Bruce Willis).
How do you outsmart yourself?
This cat-and-mouse game between Present Joe (well, 2044) and Future Joe is the basis for this thriller.
I work as a specialized assassin, in an outfit called the Loopers,” explains Gordon-Levitt. “When my organization from the future wants someone to die, they zap them back to me and I eliminate the target from the future. The only rule is: never let your target escape ... even if your target is you.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. “Looper” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
“At the crux of it is a story about what you would say to your future self, or to your past self, if you could actually meet them and have that conversation,” continues Gordon-Levitt. “Obviously that can never happen in real life, and that’s the beauty of science fiction.”
“This time-travel crap fries your brain like an egg,” says one of the Mafia guys in the film.
Nonetheless, director Rian Johnson makes it all work, despite certain paradoxical plot points. This is only Johnson’s third feature-length film, unless there are more that he made in the future but we just don’t know about yet.
Bruce Willis is an old pro, having had his day in action films (those “Die Hard” flicks most notably, as well as a few sci-fi outings like “Surrogates,” “The Fifth Element,” and “Twelve Monkeys”). And in some of them he did a little time skipping.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the new kid on the block (“Premium Rush,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and that sci-fi television sitcom “Third Rock From the Sun”).
A younger version of Bruce Willis? Even though Rian Johnson wrote the role with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in mind, he was worried. “I stood back and said ‘Oh my God, what have we done, they look nothing alike, we’re in a real pickle here!” So he hired a makeup designer to adjust Gordon-Levitt’s face very subtly to look more like Bruce Willis’s, added a few prosthetics, delivered some good acting … and voila.
“I studied Bruce Willis,” the Gordon-Levitt says. “I’d rip the audio off his movies and listen on repeat.”
Emily Blunt (she did her sci-fi apprenticeship in “The Adjustment Bureau”) provides humanity to the movie’s plot. She plays a single mother who harbors the man from the future in her farmhouse.
“All the sci-fi that I love uses those elements to get at human stuff,” Johnson explains. “For me it kind of has to do with Emily Blunt’s character in the movie. Her love for her son ends up being a big part of that. Hopefully it’s an emotional element that you wouldn’t expect from a sci-fi film that hits you at the end.”
My friend Marc knows Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s parents. Once their actor son joined them for a play in New York. “He seemed joust like a regular guy, not some big-deal actor,” Marc observed.
A correct description, it turns out. Gordon-Levitt has launched a website that puts creative people together ( On it, he identifies himself simply as RegularJOE.
But back to his new movie. For some reason, “Looper” opened in Australia a day before it played in the US. Was that a difference in time zones or a time loop from the future?

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