2. Looper (R) - Runtime: 118 minutes
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt
Director: Rian Johnson
Easily my favorite movie this year, Looper offers a compelling time-traveling story that blends into a thrilling action movie and at times morphs itself into a compelling, taught drama. Back when I wrote my most aniticipated list, Looper fell was number 2 simply for two reasons: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson. JGL has blown up in the past year, thanks to an amazing streak of great movies - (500) Days of Summer, Inception, 50/50 and The Dark Knight Rises. He's a versatile actor and also one of the few actors I'll throw down my money to see, regardless of what movie he's in. And then there's Rian Johnson, a director who I really think is going to blow up after this movie. Brick is hands down one of my most favorite movies and I'd recommend it to anyone who has a love for movies. His second film Brothers Bloom didn't get as much love, but it's still a good movie. But with Looper, Johnson delivered his best film yet.
I won't go into too much detail because part of the fun of the movie is discovering how everything unravels, but the gist of it is that JGL plays Joe, a hired gun who takes care of the mob's future hits. Time travel has been invented thirty years from when the movie takes place and Joe makes sure to kill a body that technically doesn't exist. But things get complicated when they send back Joe's future self to be killed by young Joe. Obviously old Joe escapes and all hell breaks loose.
The movie does a great job at selling the time travel premise. Instead of spending the whole movie trying to figure out the logic, the time travel takes a backburner to the action and character development. The only other time travel movie that does this right is 12 Monkeys - a fantastic drama that doesn't make a big deal out of the time traveling shenanigans but instead focuses on creating some great characters and drama. Johnson isn't worried about the setting too much as he is about what happens to young Joe when he's being hunted down by his bosses while trying to hunt down his old self.
There's some fantastic performances in this movie - Willis is usual bad ass self, but JGL proves once again he can act - and do a good Willis impersonation (although Maggie says Bruce Willis should be the one who should have changed his face to match JGL). Emily Blunt shows up about halfway through the movie and proves her chops as a single mother living day to day on a farm. But the absolute standout of the movie is Pierce Gagnon, who plays Blunt's enigmatic son. This kid's got some issues and is an absolute terror at times. His performance is simply amazing.
As for the setting - I loved that the film went in a direction I wasn't expecting. Instead of showing us how the world has evolved with technology - the better part of the film takes place on a low-tech farm. It's a surprising - and refreshing - contrast to the gritty urban and Blade Runner-esque vibe of the city from the beginning of the movie. Johnson did a great job of making the world feel lived in and gritty. Johnson is surely on his way to becoming a great director and he has a keen eye for creating some great stories.
This is my favorite movie this year, no doubt. From the setting to the characters, to the wonderful performances, Looper doesn't confine itself to just being a science fiction film. It's more than that and you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't go see this movie right away!
Rating: See It!