Movie review: Looper

You’ve never seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt like this before. He’s usually portrayed as a “Plain Joe” kind of guy chasing after the girl of his dreams, like in “10 Things I Hate about You” and “500 Days of Summer.” We didn’t get a taste of Gordon-Levitt’s ‘action-star’ potential until his portrayal of Arthur in the sci-fi epic movie “Inception,” the International Movie Database claims that the role was initially intended for James Franco, but who could forget the suspenseful scene where Gordon-Levitt instigates the “kick” sequence in a spinning hotel hallway and saves his team?

We’ve seen Gordon-Levitt in “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Premium Rush” and “Looper,” his most suspenseful film yet in 2012.  What is the premise for his success and fame? The answer lies in his ability to embody a character rather than simply perform it. Gordon-Levitt faced a challenging role in “50/50,” where he played a guy named Adam who discovers he has cancer and struggles to beat the disease.  He has also portray Tom’s raw heartbreak in “500 Days of Summer.” Gordon-Levitt brings depth to the characters he plays. “As soon as you are trying to be funny or dramatic, that’s when things start feeling fake and boring,” he reportedly said.

“Looper” is set in the near-future world of 2044. Hired gunmen called “loopers” await the arrival of the future’s undesirable subjects and kill them. In the future, time travel is illegal and only available on the black market. Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a ‘Looper’ who discovers that the mob from 2074 is ‘closing the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self to be assassinated. Playing Gorden-Levitt’s character in the future is none other than Bruce Willis, recognizable from “Die Hard,” “The Expendables” and “The Sixth Sense.” Another costar is Emily Blunt, a comedic British actress who plays Sara, a ‘no-nonsense’ country girl.

The movie makes a powerful impact by highlighting themes such as regret and redemption. Each character will make a decision that results in doing “the wrong thing for the right reason” or visa versa. There are no shortages of chase sequences or futuristic ray guns. Taking advantage of the special effects department as many sci-fi films do, the cinematography is visually striking. Good flashbacks and transitions keep you engaged.

“What would you do if you met a version of yourself from the future?” is the question that you’ll be pondering long after the credits roll. The most intriguing scenes involve conversations between future Joe and current Joe. With carefully constructed humor, Willis ridicules the former version of his character with resentment and regret. Good screenwriting makes an engaging film. The humorous script gives the characters more depth and it becomes easier to sympathize with their struggles. What would you tell yourself years ago to avoid trouble and pain?

Another central idea of the movie entails the “nature vs. nurture” dilemma. With controversies back-to-back throughout the entire movie, you’ll be in a state of shock from the moment Joseph Gordon-Levitt kicks off the film. Reminiscent of “Inception,” you will be gripping your chair and betting on which characters make it out alive. Rotten Tomatoes currently has “Looper” at 94%. This statistic will explain itself once you reach the final scene, which will make you gasp and wonder what happens next. The movie may not go the way you expect but it is definitely worth the listed price of admission.