Saturday, October 6, 2012

Film Review: Looper was Phenomenal! (9.5/10)

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were both fantastic!
 **massive spoilers**

Weeks before the Toronto Film Festival, I was excited about seeing Looper at tiff, however, it looks like everyone else was anxious too because we could not get tickets. Thankfully, Looper was going to be released just a couple weeks later and I knew I would see it then. I was able to see it last night, and I must say, Looper is one of those films that left me completely mesmerized, in awe, and totally satisfied! This film was the perfect blending of science fiction (time travel is one of my favorite themes), mutants, the mob, and a dystopian world.

In the year 2044, Joseph Gorden-Levitt (Joe) is a young punk hitman for the mob called a Looper. He and his peers are assigned to kill people from the future that are sent back in time from around 2074. Also at this time, 10% of the population have telekinetic powers (TKers). One shotgun blast to the chest is all that's needed when the victim arrives instantaneously on a white sheet, in an open field, at a specific time. It's difficult to kill people in the future and hide them because of tracking abilities, so they are kidnapped and dumped into an illegal time travel machine to be killed on the spot and disposed of in the past, removing all existence of the person. However efficient this process is, someone in the future, a brutal crime lord who goes by the name of the Rainmaker, is also closing the loop of the Loopers by sending back their older selves to be killed by their younger selves. When this mission is successful, the young looper is retired and lives off the silver and gold they collected from the victims, and their older selfs. If they do what they're suppose to do.

The first mistake happens when Paul Dano's character, Seth, is suppose to kill a guy, but the man appears in front of him singing a familiar tune from his childhood. It's Old Seth... and young Seth just can't bring himself to close his loop and kill him. Seth is on the run and seeks out Joe, his only friend, to hide him while he figures out an escape plan. But the organization figures Joe is hiding Seth and makes a bargain with him - which in turn, works, and Joe gives up Seth. However, the awesome thing about time travel is the mysterious things that happen to two selves in one time frame. The Looper organization, managed by a man from the future, played by my local neighbor Michigander, Jeff Daniels (Abe), takes the young Seth and scratches directions into his arm a location for him to go to. And piece by piece, they torture Seth with cuts and amputations which subsequently disables the future old Seth horrifically as he doesn't understand what is  happening to his body. As old Seth reaches the location, he is killed and in the background is bloody Seth on a table. Awesome! What happens to Seth is an example for Joe to be mindful of.

On Joe's next assignment, something is off, the victim doesn't arrive on time... however, he eventually appears and he does not have a hood over his face to cover his appearance: It's Old Joe, played by Bruce Willis. Young Joe realizes this in a shocking moment, but goes to kill him anyway. Old Joe turns around and the bullet hits the gold bars on his back. Old Joe jumps up, throws a gold bar at Joe and punches him out. He then escapes. Ooops! Joe knows he messed up and the Loopers are out to get him, but he tries to make things right. He scratches on his arm a place for him and Old Joe to meet up to talk, it's an awkward situation because they are two different selves separated by 30 years, and both have attitude problems. Old Joe explains to Joe that someone by the name of the Rainmaker has set all this crap into action, and if it wasn't for him, he would still be happy in China, 30 years in the future with a woman he loves very much and who saved him from his bad ways. Old Joe believes that if he can kill the present day Rainmaker, who is just a little kid at the time, he can go back into the future and be with his wife, who was subsequently killed by accident when the Loopers came to collect Old Joe to send him back in time to be killed by Joe. Get it?

This Rainmaker dude is the arc of Looper... because of him, the world is what it is 30 years from now, and he's apparently very evil, very powerful, and people fear him. What I love about Looper is that it all makes sense of a sci-fi concept that can easily be confusing and misunderstood. So in smart flashbacks, we see Joe after he successfully kills Old Joe like he's suppose to do, then he retires and lives an amazingly corrupt life filled with drugs, brutality, murder, and partying until he met a woman he fell in love with. He realized at this point in his life, that because of LOVE, Joe changed his bad ways and found peace in his life... until, the Loopers came and got him. During this future flashback of older Joe, the reason for the delay of him arriving in time for Joe to kill him is that he fights with and kills the future loopers, but he realizes then that because his wife is now dead, he does have to go back in time to kill the Rainmaker so that he does not live to create the future that old Joe is in and no longer with his wife. He has to set things right for him to be with the one he loves. Old Joe has the hood off so that could buy him time with Joe to recognize him and for Old Joe to react and protect himself. But as events unfold, that is what happens, the hesitation to kill him immediately, changed events. However, prior to being captured by the future Loopers, people who were trying to uncover and destroy the Rainmaker in the future were able to find crucial numerical ID information about him, and someone read off some numbers to Old Joe and he wrote those numbers down.
Cid played by Pierce Gagnon (he stole the film)
Those numbers were eventually used in 2044 when Old Joe researched the significance of the numbers which were related to three children, one of whom would grow up to be the rainmaker. Old Joe gives a piece of this information to Joe to help him find and kill these kids. As fate would have it, Joe winds up at a farmhouse where a young mother, Emily Blunt (Sara) is there with her 5 year old son Cid, brilliantly played by a handsome and talented Pierce Gagnon (read more about him at review). The viewer picks up early on that Cid is not your typical 5 year old... he is incredibly smart, perceptive, and spooky even. But he's still a little boy, and he's angry and distrusting of Sara, whom he doesn't believe is his mother. Joe shares with Sara the numbers that he has that lead him to her farmhouse and she is immediately alarmed as those numbers represent Cid's birthday and his hospital ID number. Joe explains to Sara that some people want to harm Cid and they must protect him, but at this time, Joe isn't aware of how special Cid is. Meanwhile, Old Joe mistakenly kills a child he thought was the future rainmaker and is remorseful about it because nothing changed, he was still there, and by killing the right child, that would set things right and he would re-appear back in the future.

A looper killer tracks down Joe at Sara's house and harasses her and wants to take Joe back with him. Cid is so curious about what is happening in the living room, he startles the man, which then scares him and causes Cid to fall down the stairs. Cid gets upset quickly and when he does, his secret TK powers are on full power mode and extremely dangerous. What happens next is the most incredible surprising scene of the film, a full demonstration of the future Rainmaker's power, and it's scary - a lot of gasps in the audience, I thought one woman was going to run out the theater crying. Joe is pulled out of the house by Sara because she knew what was going to happen and that's when Joe realizes who Cid really is and he's pissed off and scared. He now wants to do what he was sent there to do, kill Cid. He runs off to find a very bloody Cid in the sugar cane fields and he realizes then, that Cid is just a little boy, very scared, with powers beyond his control. Something clicks in Joe and he realizes that as long as Cid does not grow up misusing his powers, but understand them, guard them and use them for good, and be loved and cared for, he'll be ok and won't become the Rainmaker.

Old Joe shows up on the farmhouse scene ready to kill Cid. Joe tells Sara to take Cid somewhere and hide, but just as they are driving away, they can't escape Old Joe so they run into the sugar cane fields. Old Joe is shooting at them and knicks Cid... which upsets him again. He sends out a TK blast that suspends Old Joe and Sara in mid-air, and flips over the car that Joe is driving in to come help them. At this moment, Sara is telekinetically speaking to Cid to assure him that she loves him so very much, that it's ok, to calm down, and that she's his mother. Cid starts to cry and realizes that Sara is his mother and loves him very much. This was the turning point for Cid's life to not become the Rainmaker. However, as he releases his TK power blast and hugs his mother, Old Joe fully understands the horror of Cid's power and he must kill him in order to set things right, according to his mind. Sara tells Cid to run and hide in the sugar cane fields. At this moment, Joe is too far away to shoot at Old Joe and he foresees a series of events that could unfold if  he doesn't act. He sees old Joe kill Sara, causing Cid to lose the one thing that he loves and that can provide a normal life, he grows up alone, filled with complete hate, and go on to do exactly what he does in the current future. Joe realizes that all Cid needs was his mother's love and a good life to not become the rainmaker, so Joe shoots himself in the heart, instantly killing him, and making Old Joe disappear from existence.

Cid is not going to grow up to be the rainmaker now - the future has changed. His mother loves him, and Joe left them all his silver and gold to make them financially secure in their future.

I sat in my chair in the theater just letting my head wrap around what I saw, and I just absolutely loved this film. My friend Laurie almost wanted to cry at the end. Looper is one of those movie event films that has everything that cerebral and entertaining films should have. I would have given it a 10, if somehow Joe could have just killed Old Joe, and go off with Sara and Cid as a family, because Joe didn't have that growing up and he deserved that happiness. So, I took five points off for that, but otherwise, director Rian Johnson did a splendid job in making an original, very creative, suspenseful, and entertaining film!

(as a reminder, I was thisclose to Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the TIFF screening of Cloud Atlast - he's so damn cute!)

Score: 9.5/10


  1. An interesting and thorough review, thanks! Looper will be released in 3 weeks in France, I intended to see it and your 9,5/10 confirms I MUST see it!

  2. I hope you enjoy it Emilie. I just loved it, and i can't wait to see it again. It's done ok at the box office here in the US, but it will definitely make its money overseas! Let me know your thoughts.

  3. I saw Looper this afternoon and yes, it was very good! I especially liked the little boy (made me think of both De Palma's Carrie and young Magneto!).

  4. This is the first week Looper is in the theatre in The Netherlands. Because of your high score, I put it on my "to see list". I didn't read your review in advance because of your spoiler warning. I was glad I didn't. I agree on the high score and impressed by your review.