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In the year 2042, a mob hitman assassinates targets that arrive from the future of 2072. For him it's just a job... till he receives a new target: himself from the future.
For more about Looper and the Looper Blu-ray release, see Looper Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 23, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo
Director: Rian Johnson
» See full cast & crew
Looper Blu-ray Review
Make time for this excellent Blu-ray release.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 23, 2012
This job doesn't tend to attract the most forward-thinking people.
There's a good moment in Looper in which Bruce Willis' character tells Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character that, basically, any discussion of time travel would invariably become too far drawn out, too complicated, and would eventually lead to some big, futile production using straws as a demonstrative tool, supposedly in an effort to show skews in the timeline, illustrate alternate realities, and so on and so forth. Instead of grasping at straws, however, Writer/Director Rian Johnson's (The Brothers Bloom) time travel Action flick Looper takes the bull by the horns and gives audiences a novel, exciting, and well-scripted film that deals with all sorts of classic and innovative time travel scenarios and paradoxes and makes them both easy to understand and worthy of thought. Looper is also visually appealing, well acted, and supported by robust action. The film hits hard, looks great, and bring a genuine freshness, a real bit of innovation, to one of fiction's most fascinating storytelling devices. It gets philosophical and endlessly thought-provoking without coming across as snobbish, too complex, or in any way losing track of its Action movie origins. Looper is one of the surprise films of 2012, a highly enjoyable experience that's smart and never short on action.
In the year 2044, time travel has yet to be invented. But in 2074, it's very much a reality, and it's brought about a booming underground business for those living thirty years back. The technology -- and the use of it -- has been made instantly illegal in 2074, but like most such laws on the books, only the law-abiding are deterred from engaging in the illegal activity. Criminals make frequent use of the technology to dispose of those who stand in the way of their illegal enterprises. In 2044, young men known as "Loopers" are paid handsomely in pure silver bars to assassinate targets sent backwards in time to them. They dispose of the bodies in a world in which the victim doesn't exist, collect their funds, and await their next target. There's only one catch: Loopers must kill their future selves. They are paid handsomely to do so and are given thirty years from retirement to enjoy their wealth, usually abroad. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of the best Loopers around. He's professional and efficient, unafraid of carrying out the task, and unworried about his future prospects. When a fellow Looper allows his future-self to run, Joe hides him, temporarily, but turns him in to his boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) in exchange for keeping his stash of silver intact. But when Joe's own future self (Bruce Willis) escapes the younger Joe's murder attempt, both Joe's become targets. Meanwhile, the younger Joe is made aware of a future individual known as "The Rainmaker," a hardened criminal wreaking havoc on future events. Now, Joe must track down the younger Rainmaker while also dealing with his escaped elder self and evading Abe's deadly "Gat Men."
It's truly incredible to watch Looper unfold. There's a mastery of intelligence combined with action that's rarely achieved anymore, particularly in a movie such as this that deals in complex plot details that are handled quite effectively, welcoming viewers rather than alienating them. Looper manages to feel like both an above-the-fray "smart" movie while still appealing to a more base-level craving for well-conceived and strongly executed action segments. This is a rough, violent movie that hits hard, and unapologetically so. It's not quite as gritty as some and it eschews that dreary Blade Runner-styled future world of radical tech meets urban depravity for a more balanced, approachable vision where things have advanced but to neither a shiny and sleek nor overwhelmingly dire state of affairs, painting a sort of early-to-mid 20th century meets a "fading" modern-influenced future physical and social landscape. Yet there's an intelligence to it, a mind exercise that demands audiences not tune out when the bullets are flying. The picture makes absolutely certain to make its violence an extension of the plot while still building its plot around acts of violence. There's a beautiful full-circle nature to the film in that the core story is one shaped by violence but from that comes a complex study of science, psychology, morality, sacrifice, and other scholarly pursuits from which even more action invariably flows. This is a rare picture indeed that caters to multiple audiences and satisfies beyond their core demands, crossing boundaries because of its nearly faultless combination of intelligence and adrenaline-charged violence.
Both the action and thought exercises come together beautifully, but both are worth studying on an individual level. Looper's action takes the complete opposite approach from rubbish like the latest Resident Evil film that just throws bullets and slow-motion photography at the audience in hopes that it'll blind its viewers from the absence of a plot. Looper instead makes its violence brutal and honest, bloody and wrecking on an intimate, not a detached, level. Better, it flows from a plot and is balanced by a purpose. That makes it dramatically satisfying, too, and not simply an exercise in littering the screen with mindless bloodshed. However, it's the more thoughtful Science Fiction plot elements that make Looper shine. On the surface and especially at the beginning, it seems like the "perfect" time travel scenario. Someone from "then" is zapped to the "now;" he or she disappears without a trace from "then" and is disposed of in the "now" world in which that person doesn't even exist. But of course it's not that easy. Through the prism of murder for hire and the promise of a lucrative but relatively brief future comes ideas surrounding not only time travel paradoxes -- which are themselves almost contagiously thought-provoking as they're described and visually and structurally implemented in the film -- but also a host of philosophical, moral, and practical dilemmas that arise from situations depicted in the film. For example, is it "suicide" if one kills a different version of oneself? Looper also deals in more "traditional" time travel quagmires, such as the "value" of murder with the benefit of foresight and the possibility of skewing a timeline for better (and sometimes for worse) in the name of "saving" what remains only a possible future line, even with confirmation of it. Looper does the time travel thing as well as any film before it, and mixes it in with a very good story, robust action, great acting, and strong technical merits.
Lastly, Looper is well-acted and sturdily staged. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are convincingly similar from a physical standpoint -- at least within the film's flow and thanks to some movie magic -- and adequately dissimilar where it really counts, internally and separated by both time and experience, the sources from which the film derives much of its drama. Gordon-Levitt is particularly strong as the drug-addicted, hard-lined killer who dances around the boundaries of his profession but never crosses an uncrossable line. He's tough and plays the part with almost menacing, piercing eyes, a very different type of character than his sort of more buoyant and boyish hero in the excellent Premium Rush. Willis, on the other hand, looks like he just walked off the set of Pulp Fiction; he wears a similarly colored jacket and takes on a recognizable no-nonsense attitude as he maneuvers through the times and timelines his character inhabits. Writer/Director Rian Johnson approaches the material thoughtfully, directing with a straightforward, simple approach that only emphasizes the story and visuals, not dominate them. He tells a story rather than define it, and the sum total is a picture that absorbs its audience rather detachedly show it what's happening. Altogether, it's easy to see why it's one of the year's best films.
Looper Blu-ray, Video Quality
Looper's 1080p high definition presentation will withstand the test of time. Sony's latest visual treat for the eyes satisfies in nearly every regard. The film-like textures are consistent and accurate. Light grain hovers over the image, and details are consistently pure and true to the medium. Facial textures are faultless, clothing lines splendid, and even minute qualities on close-ups of vegetation are often striking. Colors are equally satisfying, displaying nuanced precision and seamless balance across the entire spectrum. Bright green leaves, country tans, worn down urban grays, and splashes of neon all look fantastic throughout the film and under any lighting condition. Black levels can go a bit pale, but generally there's no perceptible problem with shadow detail. Skin textures, however, appear true throughout. The transfer exhibits no perceptible problems with banding, blockiness, edge enhancement, or other unnecessary or unwanted visual anomalies. This is another accurate, highly satisfying transfer from Blu-ray's best studio.
Looper Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Looper wastes no time demonstrating its startling audio proficiency. Sony's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is a dazzling achievement of sound engineering. The track plays with a big, aggressive stature. It offers a very convincing and sonically colorful and robust sound effects, presenting a wide array of elements maneuvering through the stage with high proficiency. Future vehicles and aircraft zip and whir from one speaker to the next. Exterior ambience is beautifully structured, whether city atmospherics or light background din around the film's many countryside settings. Music plays with natural placement and balance; there's a true, accurate feel and tremendous clarity throughout the film, save for deliberately mushy background club dance beats that offer overly zealous bass in an effort to accurately reproduce the environment. Gunfire is strikingly realistic throughout. Whether a single shot in a confined space that's apt to stun listeners as it does characters in the film or a series of shots from "blunderbuss" shotguns to the large-caliber revolvers used by the "Gat Men," the film's gunfire is amongst the most potent, dizzyingly accurate, and sonically pleasurable of any Blu-ray release. Dialogue is handled with great clarity and attention to detail. In short, this is another striking, high-end soundtrack from Sony.
Looper Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Looper contains a commentary track, tons of deleted scenes, and a few featurettes. This set also included a UV digital copy redemption code.
Looper Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Looper exquisitely blends hardcore action with hardcore storytelling that's dramatically, mentally, and emotionally satisfying all. The film doesn't wax philosophical; it instead keeps its action first while building its underlying scientific and philosophic underpinnings as primary pieces of a greater whole. This is an Action film first and foremost, but it's one of the smartest and most novel of its kind, a rarity in today's dumbed-down multiplex cinema landscape. Strong acting and Rian Johnson's quality writing and directorial craftsmanship round Looper into one of the year's best films and its must-see Action flick. Sony's Blu-ray, as usual, dazzles. Fantastic picture and sound qualities are supported by a nice selection of extra content. Very highly recommended.
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