by Eric Poalini
It's a special thing when you realize you're watching a great movie. That realization doesn't hit for most movies until after it's over and you've had a change to sit with it for a while. At least for me. Two thirds of the way through Looper I realized not only am I watching one of the best films of the year, but a great, great movie. I enjoyed Looper so much I went back for seconds two days later. It was just as great the second time.
Rian Johnson is on the way to becoming one my favorite directors. Tween novel adaptations, comic book adaptations, and reboots/remakes are dominating Hollywood. It's a nice change when a movie with an original idea comes along. The three films Johnson has written and directed are all original ideas. The two I have seen, Brick and Looper, have really interesting premises. Looper's idea of mob controlled time travel is one of the most inventive things I've seen at the theaters this year.
One of the most creative things in the movie was a death scene near the end. The way the character died is so original it garnered an audible "ooooh" of amazement from the half-filled crowd I was in.
That entire scene is spectacular.
With a cast of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels you expect great performances. And they all delivered. But most impressive was child actor, Pierce Gagnon. Relying on child actors, especially young ones, can be tricky. Looper didn't lean on Gagnon like Beasts of the Southern Wild did with Quvenzhané Wallis. But when Gagnon was used, he was great.
My only complaints about Looper are the prosthetics and lens flares used. The prosthetics Gordon-Levitt wears to make him look like Bruce Willis are distracting and unnecessary. Just as distracting and unnecessary, if not more, was the use of lens flares while in the city. It was like J.J. Abrams was on the set while shooting the city scenes.
Despite a few complaints, Looper is strong from start to finish. The ending is perfect. I don't think it can be improved. It's unexpected, uses narration wonderfully, and makes such an interesting comment on society.
Out of all the things that blew my mind during the movie, the best might be something I found out after. Rian Johnson recorded and released a free audio commentary for people who go back for a second viewing in theaters. I think it is a brilliant idea. Why has nobody thought about this before? Johnson did for his last movie, The Brothers Bloom, and was enough of a success he did it again.
Looper is excellently written, directed, and acted. You know what, Looper is just excellent.
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