|'The moral confusion that permeates too hints at the general psyche of the world at large. Are there recognisable echoes of our real-life world? Most definitely.'|
Not the film advertised in its trailers, Looper is a dirty, sand-blasted, pot-boiler of a Science-Fiction film, with enough academic nous to keep you thinking post-credits and a pace which makes its plot fly by.
Occasionally disorientating, the influences in Rian Johnson's film extend further than the obvious. As Abe (Jeff Daniels) says at one point, every film has already been done before, but arguably, this is a fresh mix. Obvious touchstones of things like 12 Monkeys (it certainly has the grime of Gilliam) give way to partial lifts from things like The Omen and early nods to body horror. It's a potent, edge-of-your seat mix, which lends Looper the unpredictability it needs.
Sticking with familiar cinematographer Steve Yedlin, Johnson has him create a world where the pinnacle of automation is a Mazda MX-5 and no window has seen a cleaning cloth in many a year. Brick, this isn't. Looper doesn't need to shout that it's a dystopia from the rooftops, although later events make it clear, the subtle signs are there that we're in a place where everything is not right.
The moral confusion that permeates too hints at the general psyche of the world at large. Are there recognisable echoes of our real-life world? Most definitely. Some very harsh scenes late on involving violence and children give us a glimpse into Johnson's social consciousness, something which a late realisation by protagonist Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) makes plain. We are killing each other. And we're doing it too young.
Levitt meanwhile, in make-up to ensure he resembles his older self (Bruce Willis) is as good as he's ever been, though his altered visage is distracting, especially if you approach this cold. Willis gets surprisingly little to do and is eventually superseded in the second of a two act structure by Emily Blunt and youngster Pierce Gagnon, both of whom are excellent.
This is Johnson's piece though, an auteur film with a message from someone who produced one of 2005's best films and at least tried to do the same with The Brothers Bloom. This makes none of that films' mistakes and aspires just as high. No longer a talent to watch, Johnson is now a talent to stand back and admire.
Looper is released in the UK on DVD/Blu-ray on 28th January 2013.