Skip to main content

Review: Rage Against the Time Machine (Looper)

Film noir has not been a traditionally successful genre in the last twenty years. Then along came Rian Johnson and changed all that. He took the leads who provide the context for the audience, the women who lead them to their fall, and hard times where morally ambivalent men succeed and reformatted it for the 21st century. The man is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the year is 2044 and the occupation is looping.

Joe is a cocky young man and he has little time for anything other than making money and planning on getting out of the country. His profession is explained in few words and without dumbing it down.

Loopers are not forward-thinking people, Joe explains. They are contracted to kill people who don't yet exist in this time and collect the precious metals that come with the body. They are rewarded quite handsomely for this task, but it comes with strings: eventually they have to kill themselves. Killing your future self usually goes off without a hitch. Blunderbuss in hand, Joe waits until a masked figure appears in front of him. What happens next is unexpected.

Elder Joe (Bruce Willis at the best he's been in a long time) is ready: he strikes first and leaves everything in chaos. The consequences for the elder Joe running around are almost unfathomable. The consequences for current Joe are even more harsh. Where elder Joe comes from is a horrifying place and he must change the past if his younger self is going to be able to find the same happiness he has.

Willis and Gordon-Levitt sets the tone of the film immediately: there is more at stake than the whims of a wayward twenty-something. Many people will die.

Initially a questionable aspect, Joe's visage seems a little strange, but Levitt picks up every nuance and mannerism of a young Bruce Willis. When the two interact for their first sit down scene, no qualms are had about prosthetics at all. The following collision course that takes place between the two men ranks as one of the most haunting representations of seeing who you are become corrupted right in front of you. The diner scene between 

By attaching himself to original concepts such as this, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has quickly become one of the most interesting leading men in Hollywood, with directors like Rian Johnson guiding him, he has nowhere to go but up.

Much like its lead actor, Looper is destined for higher things. It is fated to become a sci-fi classic.

***1/2 out of ****

Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…