It's impossible to believe that it's been seven years since director Rian Johnson and a young budding star named Joseph Gordon-Levitt teamed up for the tightly drawn high school noir flick Brick. As a first time writer and director on a major motion picture, Brick introduced us to the creative possibilities of the obviously talented Rian Johnson. Over half a decade later, the tag team of Johnson and Gordon-Levitt have gone and raised the bar even higher with their newly released sci-fi action thriller, Looper.
In 2044 time traveled hasn't been invented yet, but in 30 years from then, it will be. And although time travel quickly becomes outlawed in the future, crime organizations still find a way to send their targets back in time to have them eliminated by Loopers like Joe (played by Gordon-Levitt). Loopers are paid very well and live a glorious life in a rather desolate futuristic world. But there's one major rule for Loopers though, never let your target escape. Joe's been a loyal assassin and followed the golden rule his entire career, until the day he discovers that his target is his future self (played by Willis).
Rian Johnson's third directorial effort, Looper, is a meticulously crafted and beautifully original sci-fi adventure that proves there's still plenty of creativity floating around Hollywood. As both the writer and director on the film, Johnson conjures up one of the most believable futuristic worlds in sci-fi history. He welcomes us to a 2044 familiar enough to keep the experience authentic, but different enough to serve as an appropriate platform for the story. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Looper is Johnson's unparalleled ability to constantly progress the film's plot. By continually planting the most subtle of seeds throughout the movie, Johnson gives his masterpiece the open-ended potential to go just about anywhere ... which he does. The writer/director clearly had visions of grandeur when he began tackling the concept of Looper. Attempting to address a complex scientific notion such as time travel requires detailed precision and some extremely ambitious ideas. But rather than devoting its entirety to explain time travel, the phenomena merely serves as a backdrop to a much larger and more important examination of the feature's main characters. Clearly Johnson can rest assured knowing that Looper hurdles over every obstacle on its path to becoming an instant sci-fi classic. Thanks, in large part, to an imaginative and taut script that leaves almost no loose ends, Looper manages to finds itself among the most memorable films of 2012.
For as excellent and clever as the story is, Looper still lands short of perfection. One obvious flaw lies in the surprising amount of screen time given to Noah Segan's character Kid Blue. Overused and unimpressive, Segan finds himself dominating screen time all while the audience waits patiently for the film to progress. More so a complaint about the character than Segan's individual performance, Looper would have been better served without the inclination to give so much attention to such a pointless character. And for as much of a Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan as I am, he and Willis both demonstrate that they're not quite at the level of some of Hollywood's greats. While the pair's performances are by no means detracting from the film, there are a few occasional moments where they leave a little to be desired. However, these minor blemishes aren't nearly enough to call into questions the apparent success of Looper.
Rarely are we handed an epic sci-fi journey with as much originality and ingenuity as Rian Johnson's Looper. Massively entertaining from start to finish, Looper's success hinges on its innovative script and many of its strong supporting cast members such as Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels. But perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the film resides in its final moments. With a hair-rising finale that's sure to impress, Looper concludes in grand fashion.