Whether you can raise your eyebrows, you might find yourself captivated by one of the best sci-fi movies of the 2010s.
10 years ago, actor and fine tie enthusiast Joseph Gordon-Levitt was at the height of his leading man status when director Rian Johnson and artist Kazuhiro Tsuji gave one of the men the sexiest in the world of uncomfortable blue contacts and prosthetic lips, nose and eyebrows.
The goal was to make the actor look like a young Bruce Willis, which is as weird to think about now as it was then. But it somehow works on screen, most of the time. And everything else in looper works so well that it’s easy to forgive the subtle friction of the senses that sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Charlie Chan’s eyebrows.
looper, an original sci-fi with noir action seasoning, threw audiences for, well, a loop with its polished storytelling and refreshing world-building. Came out the same summer that saw The Avengers and The dark knight rises rules theaters, looper was one of the last gasps of non-IP original movies making the bank before Hollywood’s economy got tough. It’s also the sci-fi movie you need to see before it leaves Netflix June 30.
In the year 2074, time travel is possible but illegal. It is therefore a black market technology used by organized crime to turn targets over to be murdered and disposed of without any trace of the crime. Those in 2044 who do the job are “loopers”. They get their name because, ultimately, these hitmen “close the loop” when tasked with ending their older lives. In exchange, they receive a large stack of gold bars and a retirement of about 30 years to enjoy their wealth.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young surveyor living a life of luxury until one day he closes his loop and is spoiled by his oldest (Bruce Willis). Young Joe learns from Old Joe that in the future their industry is dominated by a mysterious figure known as The Rainmaker, who forcibly closes all loops. Determined to save both their lives, Joe, young and old, engages in a complicated game of cat and mouse while searching for the past identity of the rainmaker.
What is most remarkable looper is its tight storytelling. It’s complicated, but Johnson’s deliberate pacing and clever, entertaining directing – Joe’s first kill in the film is as abrupt as a jump scare – demonstrates an impressive balance of unwieldy complexity and easy-to-use simplicity. to input. Put simply, it’s just nice when a movie seems as simple and effective as looper.
The gesture of looper is also indicative of the film’s lean and muscular stature. There’s plenty of gunshots and things exploding, but the obvious green screen set-pieces and cartoonish maximalism of 21st century blockbusters are absent. in many ways looper feels old school, comparable to the first die hard Where Total recall rather than his contemporaries.
A critical showdown between the Joes, reminiscent of Pacino/Niro in Heat, ends with what is arguably one of the most tightly directed shootouts in modern cinema. It’s not elaborate like the one from 2009 Sought or fun like it’s 2017 baby driverbut again, there is elegance in simplicity.
looper even has artistic and structural allusions to Johnson’s next film, The Division Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As Last Jedi, looper has flashes of blunt, ironic humor, characters spiritually tortured by an unknown lineage, and long stretches in isolated rural land (policed in looper by Sara by Emily Blunt, a single mother) where the protagonist finds spiritual renewal.
But at the same time The Last Jedi is clear on his defense of individuality, not to mention the power of believing stories, looper is no longer lost in the fields, unable to find a side in the conflict of fate and free will. It also values skepticism about any story people tell you about themselves.
looper doesn’t quite foreshadow what was to come from Johnson as a storyteller. The Last Jedi was a great franchise sequel that found zen impossible amid corporate chaos, while 2019 Knives out was a delightfully funny satire of pocket murder mysteries and an excuse to dress up an A-list ensemble in comfy sweaters. looper, an understated sci-fi noir with more subdued palettes, crystallizes into an anomaly in Johnson’s increasingly colorful oeuvre. It might not be Rian Johnson’s best movie, but it’s one you can’t miss. Don’t get distracted by makeup.
looper is streaming on Netflix until June 30.
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