Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Vote Now: Jameson Empire Awards 2015
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
The 2014 Christmas Gift Guide
Get 12 Issues For Only £25 Today
The perfect gift this Christmas
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Empire Blogs
Under The Radar

Back to all blogs Comment Now

TIFF 2012: Looper

Posted on Friday September 7, 2012, 17:17 by Damon Wise in Under The Radar
TIFF 2012: Looper

My TIFF 2012 experience began with a chance encounter at Toronto Pearson airport, when I happened on Emily Blunt, who was waiting for her bags like a real, normal person (which is what she is, coming from the Barnes area, I think). Ms Blunt has two films here, one being Arthur Newman with Colin Firth, which I should be seeing Monday, the other being, of course, the mighty Looper, which I saw in London a few weeks ago. She was especially hyped about the Looper premiere, since it was then being trailed on TV screens by the carousels, and if she had any doubts, I should think they were wiped out by what I'm hearing was a fantastic reception last night.

For me, Looper is the sci-fi of the summer, which, accounting for climate change, is a good thing right about now. After the disappointingly wishy-washy Prometheus, which raised more questions about its questions than it ever had answers for, and the Swiss cheese of plotholes that was The Dark Knight Rises, Looper comes as a real gut-punch, not only raising questions of identity and morality but doing so in a time-travel framework that allows for hoverbikes, superdrugs and Bruce Willis with a machine gun. It is the not just the thinking man's action movie, it's the action man's thinking movie, a slick, well-realised genre piece that somehow doesn't seem as smart as it is until you've left the cinema. How can a film this violent, this much bubblegum fun, have so much to say?

The story is the hardest thing to describe, which might possibly hurt the film financially since it will struggle to get the one-line word-of-mouth pitch (“It's a new Batman movie!!!”) that its closest competitor could benefit from. However, fans of TDKR would do well to be sucked in by that film's, to me, best asset: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who expands on his role in Brick to play a hard-bitten loner here, a two-bit punk whose world is rocked by a chance encounter with himself. Or maybe it's not by chance; Looper is a film about Joe, a hitman working 40 years from now who arranges hits for a crime syndicate. Time travel is possible but illegal, and Joe's job is to bump off the still-writhing human packages that arrive from the future and dispose of the bodies. Joe knows that one day he may find himself in one of those bundles, but he resigns himself to a shorter life and blasts away at his own body when it drops into his sights one day. But this, remember, is a time travel movie. And when Joe, in later life, realises that crime isn't all that it's cracked up to be, he decides that next time he won't go so quietly.

Even that, written down, doesn't make much sense, but it will when you see the film (which of course you should). The idea of man versus self is ingenious alone, but the best part of this fabulous film is the way it plays out its characters. Both Joes are sympathetic, especially the Old Joe (Willis), who has to do something terrible to save the life of the woman he loves. And the most fascinating part is that Old Joe doesn't fuck with the space-time continuum in the way classic time-travel movies have in the past (he doesn't kill Hitler, or step on a rare species of flower/bird/insect). Old Joe's pained passion is the McGuffin of the movie: the real thing that's out of time and out of context. The plot-driver to watch is subtly introduced in gags and (literally) billboards, leading to a ripping stand-off that not only delivers tension and violence but stops the madness with a searing moment of calm and enlightenment, enough to flip the whole movie on its head.

Here, of course, we're getting into spoiler territory, so I'll stop there, pausing only to say what an amazing combo JGL and Willis make, with a special mention for Blunt as a rare female character with, well, character, not to mention backbone and heart. These things should come as next to no surprise, though; the real revelation is perhaps that Johnson has moved up a league far faster than anyone could have imagined, on his own terms, with a film that takes no prisoners.

Coming soon: Argo, Antiviral, Silver Linings Notebook, Perks Of Being A Wallflower.

You can follow me on @yo_damo if you like.

Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 DanC
Posted on Monday September 10, 2012, 07:51
Saw Looper at Movie Fest 2012 in Dublin last night - loved it.

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (329)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Cannes Film Festival 2014: Awards Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance London: An Introduction To The 2014 Edition
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: First Report
By Damon Wise

Shane Carruth Interview: Upstream Color
By Damon Wise

Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac: First Look
By Damon Wise

The European Film Awards 2013
By Damon Wise

Metro Manila Charity Screenings
By Damon Wise

San Sebastian Film Festival 2013: First Report – Enemy, Le Week-end, Quai D'Orsay and The Railway Man
By Damon Wise


RECENT COMMENTS

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
"lights of both competitors alongside its traditional 24/7 series. Here we have the greatest hits of "  lalkala000
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Ha ha, buuuurn! I am going to go a step further and say Dredd was a better film."  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"You are a miserable old fart! "  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Doug64 I totally agreed with you"  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Am I the only person in the world who doesn't think The Raid is all that great? I realise you have t"  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Great write-up on a movie for which I am incredibly excited. Even more promisingly, this seems to be"  tysmuse
Read comment

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double
"If being on a par with Terry Gilliam's 'daft' Brazil is the only criticism avowed Gilliam-disliker D"  Garth_Marenghi
Read comment

Venice 2013: Under The Skin
"I'm glad that Glazer's finally back on the big screen. Judging by the review, he"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"What's really interesting about this film is the trailer gives nothing away but give you the premise"  durelius
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"Looks majestic. Can't wait to see this particularly if it lives up to the slowly-building hype."  herbertwest1701
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Why I Love Django Unchained
5 comments

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
5 comments

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
4 comments

Venice 2013: Under The Skin
1 comments

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double
1 comments

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part Two
1 comments

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part 5
1 comments

Argo: a round table encounter with Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman
1 comments

Cannes 2013: Some Thoughts On The Official Lineup
1 comments

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
1 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Owen Williams (21)
Phil de Semlyen (20)
Simon Braund (6)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

6 issues for £20 plus free Gourmet Society Membership worth £69.95!
Get 6 months of Empire for just £20 and not only receive the world's greatest movie magazine and exclusive subscriber covers but you'll also receive up to 50% off restaurants nationwide and more with a free Gourmet Society Membership worth £64.99!Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Spoiler Podcast
Featuring the director, Francis Lawrence

Empire's Jurassic World Trailer Tour
Updated: Director Colin Trevorrow guides us through the first trailer

Vote Now: The Jameson Empire Awards 2015
Tell us your favourite films and stars of the year

The Gift Guide 2014: 50 Must-Have Items This Christmas
Box sets, hardware, clothing, books and stocking fillers to buy

Empire's Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies Covers
Five armies. Five covers. The eagles, dwarves, elves, men and orcs prepare for battle in our Peter Jackon guest-edited issue

Josh Hutcherson On The Hunger Games Phenomenon
'I've done my fair share of young adult material now'

What Is A Squidward? A Beginner's Guide To SpongeBob SquarePants
If you aren’t already a massive fan, prepare to become one

Subscribe to Empire magazine
6 issues for £20 plus free Gourmet Society Membership worth £69.95!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)