mag·nif·i·cent/magˈnifəsənt/ (adj.)

1. Impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.
2. Very good; excellent.

Synonyms: splendid - gorgeous - grand - superb - glorious

WARNING: Some spoilers may be bound but I try to keep them light.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Looper (2012)

Looper is a film about violence, crime and choices one makes in their life.
Joe is a guy hired by a criminal organization in the future to assassinate and dispose of people that the future mob wants to take out, which apparently is much harder in the future. Everything is good, Looper's are well compensated, Joe basically lives the life and everything is going well until the day he needs to assassinate his future self. Looper takes the plot from this point and runs with it. So much so that I don't want to say any more about the plot but, believe me you may think you know where this is going from here but you're wrong. You'll soon see Looper is a very well thought-out movie.

One of the best things this film does good is it's treatment of time travel and other Sci-fi elements. There's a big trend in film these days to just over do it comes to Science Fiction. This film is very smart about it. It doesn't dwell on any of it's fantastical elements but it does it well enough that you can tell writer/director Rian Johnson has figured out all the kinks and knows exactly how it all works. Let's face it time travel can really make your head hurt. Especially in a story like this where your protagonist and your antagonist are essentially the same person! Rian approaches it carefully, he uses voice-over to explain things that would have probably taken too much time to show (there's a lot to set up in this world, if you couldn't already tell...) and anytime he introduces something that could potentially lose a viewer or send you adrift with endless pondering he actually calls your attention back to the movie with the characters actually stating, things like: "It's enough to make your head hurt," or "Don't worry about that... it's too confusing." With the characters never breaking the 3rd wall but the writer/director being completely aware of what the audience is following and what they understand sitting on the other side of the wall. Smart.

Another thing I really appreciated was the score. Unlike what you would imagine from the pounding dubstep-heavy trailer, the music in Looper is actually a (partially?) synthesized score that has a lot of really long drawn out cords muck like an old Hitchcock thiller. The score is very second nature to the film and works so well that I probably wasn't aware of it for almost the entire film, but then they use it to really enhance dramatic parts (like the climactic ending) where these looong strung-out chords pull on for what seems like forever. Making an already intense scene almost nerve-racking.

Pretty much anything I said bad about this film would be nitpicking. But there is a couple things an attentive viewer might notice. I thought it was weird the second time you see someone send a message to their later self by carving into their skin they use an arrow to show there's more of a message under their clothes. The first time I was like okay, fine. But when it happened the second time to someone who didn't even see the first incident I thought it was just sloppy. If you see the scar of the letter "B" carved into the skin on your arm wouldn't you pull up your sleeve anyway to look at it? Why do you need an arrow telling you to look farther?

Also there was this really weird coincidence mid-to late into the film that caught me off guard about a prostitute they introduced earlier in the film returning as an element way later so that she actually factored into the plot, that was a bit jarring. I *think* it's just supposed to be a mere coincidence that it was actually someone he knew, but I felt it was unnecessary and distracting. Like I said nitpicking.

There's so much in this movie that I found to be "magnificient" that I could talk about, that this could be a very long post so I'll try to stick to only a couple things. That being said though I gotta say I think Looper's best quality is it's attention to character. Each character is very well thought out, with their own set of wants, and where they came from and how they think. Even characters that are essentially the same person have defining things in their life that have changed them and Rian Johnson is smart to tell you that this is why this person acts different than his former self. Antagonists are handled so well you can really understand where they're coming from and why they're acting the way they are. You can tell he's actually done all the work behind the scenes and lays it all out in a really wonderful and interesting way.

Rian Johnson knows the ins and outs of the story so well that he can look at everything with an outsiders view and really decide and pick what to show at what point so that the audience or viewer gets what he lays out when he lays it out. It's beautiful how the story plays out and for the majority of the film you don't know what is going to happen next. This also allowed him to sit down and actually say something with the film. Looper's well thought-out and laid down themes come together in a conclusion and makes a grand statement on violence (and possibly action movies) that makes you go, oh that's why this was so violent, or why he did that. I see what you did there Rian Johnson. More directors and writers need to think about their movies like this. Give it a point to exist. What are you trying to say? Bravo Rian Johnson. Bravo.

So to summarize: Looper is one of the best Action/Sci-fi films in the last decade if not two. Well thought-out, very clever, and well executed. Don't miss seeing this one in theaters. 5/5 Stars.

Happy watching!