Looper Review: Gordon-Levitt, An Actor Like No Other
Back to The Future brought it into the mainstream. Harry Potter helped revitalize the concept. Doctor Who helps to keep it alive in pop culture. Add Inception’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt into the equation, and what do you get?
Looper goes above and beyond, not only in its usage of time travel, but also by adding in plenty-a seasoned actors into the mix. Bruce Willis and The Newsroom’s Jeff Daniels join in Gordon-Levitt’s endeavors, making for one heck of a sci-fi ensemble piece.
Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a mob hit-man tasked with wasting those that magically appear in front of him at a designated time, every day. Talk about your typical 9-to-5, eh?
Joe’s victims are burlap-ed and transported via, you guessed it, time travel. Things take a spin towards a grand Hollywood venture when one day, Joe’s future counterpart appears in front of him. The older Joe then escapes before the younger Joe can kill the older. Cue ironic internal conflict.
From the film’s grand, ahem, shotgun opening to its well built up closing, the pace is consistently pushed ahead by Gordon-Levitt’s superior acting chops. Whether performing during the chemistry-ridden scene he had with Daniels, or at any point throughout with Willis as his future self, Gordon-Levitt shines squeaky clean with clear intentions and facial expressions (despite the immense amounts of makeup caking his usually expressive features—more on that later).
Notice must be given in particular to the scene Gordon-Levitt had with child prodigy Pierce Gagnon. Despite literally having no space to act in, as the two are hiding in a tight underground tunnel, the actors fight for the limelight in an wonderfully intense fashion. The level of maturity that Gagnon possesses at such a young age is baffling. It’s not often that a child actor of his caliber arrives onto the scene.
Most story elements line up fairly well, with questionable plot-hole moments here and there; nothing out of the ordinary for any sort of time travel centric piece. A delicate balance was executed in which sci-fi and character development scenes were given equal importance. This balance is refreshing, in that many movies that fall into the “sci-fi, action adventure” category tend to favor the phrase “actions speak louder than words.”
A large component of the film’s integrity is the fact that Gordon-Levitt is meant to play off as Willis’ younger self. The make-up artists attempted to convey this by heavily layering on a prosthetic mask to Gordon-Levitt’s forehead and jaw. This consistently broke the illusion for me. In the end, I understand this decision to alter Gordon-Levitt’s face to match Willis’, as opposed to the reverse. Willis has been around for a bit longer, and is also much more recognizable to mainstream audiences, after all.
Makeup woes aside, this film deserves nearly as much attention as Gordon-Levitt’s Christopher Nolan masterpieces. Keep the young-ins home for this one, as it’s at times a hard and mildly gory “R”.
****1/2/***** (four and a half out of five stars)
Rated “R” for violence, language, some sexuality/nudity, and drug content.
Original release date: September 28th, 2012 (Worldwide)