I'm going to struggle to write a detailed review of Looper without spoiling a lot about it, so I'll keep somewhat vague.
Looper is the best science fiction film I've seen since Inception came out in 2010. Remember all the hype that was built up over Prometheus? It should have been built on Looper. But while Prometheus was a big, flashy (something of a) mess, Looper managed to stay relatively low-key, while still presenting a full futuristic dystopia and a bunch of challenging ideas.
And that's one of the best parts about it, it actually challenges the audience to think. A lot of "what ifs" came to mind after I saw it, and the best part of all was that it kept me engaged the entire time. I actually didn't know where the story was going, and the final outcome was something I didn't expect.
Joseph Gordon Levitt does a fine job pretending to be a young Bruce Willis. The make up effects weren't 100% great (something was weird about the eye area), but it got the job done. He even picked up some of his trademark mannerisms. Meanwhile, Bruce Willis just got to show up and be Bruce Willis. At least he's not playing a cop (or a retired cop) for a change. Actually, Willis was very good in this. He actually got to do some real acting for a change. Emotional acting. He didn't just play a squinting thug the entire time like he usually gets reduced to nowadays.
The film did a great job keeping me guessing. At different various points of the story I didn't even know who to root for. Old Joe seems like a good guy now. Oh wait, now Young Joe seems to be the hero. Well, now they are both kind of villains. Well, uh, hmmmm... Not that many movies pull off something like that so well. I know time travel movies tend to be full of plot holes, and there are certainly some in Looper too, but even while acknowledging that I think this film has one of the best screenplays of the year. Not just for story, but also for some really fantastic dialogue. "Don't go to France. I'm from the future, go to China..."
I'm sure it can be dissected to bits and pieces about all the problematic elements to the logic, but at least on the first comb through of the film, it provided a great enough ride that I tried not to look at them as critically while I was watching it. Now that a day has passed, I'm thinking about several things that may or may not fully make sense, but at this point, I don't really care. I liked Looper a lot, so I'm willing to overlook some things for the sake of continuing to like it. Because I wish more movies were made like Looper. When it comes down to it, if you want to dislike this film purely for its potential plot holes, then good luck liking any time travel film.
The craftsmanship was awesome on this film. The editing was very well done. It had nice pacing, and didn't feel like it was two hours. Normally I like to say that films are 15-20 minutes too long, but I actually felt like Looper was a near-perfect length. Maybe a few minutes could have been chopped off, but I wouldn't want that to happen if it meant damaging the atmosphere. There were two particularly well-edited sequences that I took note of. The first was a sequence showing a vast amount of time in the story being told in a very short amount of screen time. And the second was one of the best movie deaths I've ever seen. Or at least one of the most memorable. It was actually kind of frightening to think about what was going on during that scene, especially in what they *weren't* choosing to show. It was absolutely brilliant, and very original. Loved that scene.
The cinematography was also great. It was pretty subtle in its greatness too. The shots weren't 'in your face' beautiful (like in The Master), but upon looking back at the finished product, it was absolutely well shot. A handful of great slow motion shots, too. And it didn't hurt that I enjoyed the rural Kansas farm setting either. Cool place to stage a huge chunk of a science fiction movie.
I laughed (in a good way) at some of the art direction of the film, mainly with the portrayal of the cars people were driving. Instead of everyone sporting futuristic hovercars (OK, well, there was a hovering motorcycle), most people drove beat up cars from current times. Only they all had tubes duct taped to them, and solar panels glued to the hoods, as if the only way to drive a car in the future is to MacGuyver the crap out of it, haha. As if the future world was so terrible that new cars weren't even being manufactured anymore. It was a nice touch.
Based on the marketing, it wouldn't be wrong to assume that Looper is just a cat and mouse game between the two leads... but it becomes so much more than that. It's a much richer experience than you probably think. And for all the gory action and complicated sci-fi twists, the film actually ended on an incredibly simple, human note. And now that I've been thinking about it for a day, I'm *still* not sure which version of Joe I should have actually been rooting for.
Cool movie, and one of the best of the year.
8.5 out of 10