Community Reactions: Rian Johnson's "Looper" - The Awards Circuit - By Clayton Davis

Community Reactions: Rian Johnson’s “Looper”

Tell us what you thought of Rian Johnson's latest...

Rian Johnson’s newest Looper hits theaters this weekend.  I saw it yesterday after the screening of Life of Pi and one word came to mind after walking out, overrated.  Definitely entertaining but super long-winded and not so well-executed in a concept that is surely inventive.  Time travel stuff is cool but the Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young Bruce Willis is very distracting, especially when he’s talking.  I believe this is the birth of a franchise.  Watch out for sequels (if it makes enough money).  I’m curious to see what our readers think.  Be a critic.

Comment below.

Discuss.

Clayton Davis (1574 Posts)

Clayton Davis is the respected and esteemed AwardsCircuit.com editor. Clayton has become a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to awards season show, The Critics Choice Movie Awards. Most recently, Clayton is a now an active member of the International Press Academy, which hosts the popular Satellite Awards as well as the newly integrated Broadcast Television Journalists Association, which hosts the Critics Choice Television Awards.

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  • Josh P.

    I don’t think I’d call it overrated, but it is definitely flawed. I actually liked all the actors, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I can understand why some of his Willis affectations might have been distracting, but I soon got used to it. I think everyone pretty much delivers. I also think Johnson has incredible skills as a director, and despite a couple instances where it just felt like he was showing off with the camera, he actually does have moments of good character reveal and legitimate tension within the story.

    ***SPOILER ALERT***

    The problems I have with the film stem mostly from the telekineses element of the film. This story was already asking a lot from the audience in dealing with the time travel concept that adding on this other element felt unnecessary and stretched the believability of this world. You still could have had a film that dealt with the Levitt/Willis chase dynamic and also indulged on the relationship he has with the mother and son. If anything, giving the kid superpowers takes away the real emotional motivation the kid has, making the whole third act feel like its padded. Also, I hated Noah Segan’s character. He was absolutely worthless to the story and added nothing but an annoying presence.

    Overall it does have some significant flaws, but I did end up enjoying the film quite a bit. It’s a fun ride that I’d recommend to others.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=26801810 Clayton Davis

      I enjoyed it too. I like your thoughts and agree with nearly all of them.

  • koook160 (Robert MacFarlane)

    It’s not as good as Rian Johnson’s first film, Brick, but it’s pretty damn good. There are some scenes that could have been a little more daring, and the use of slow-mo at times is jarring. The acting is very good, especially from Emily Blunt and newcomer Pierce Gagnon. ***1/2

  • Steve Glansberg

    (Beware, possible spoilers, you have been warned)

    I thought it was a fascinating film. If I had to criticize something…I guess it would be a few of Rian Johnson’s usual quirks; his proclivity for ‘lingo’ and his self-conscious characters. But that’s his style, and regardless, those are some pretty nitpicky things to complain about. So really, I have nothing even remotely worth complaining about the film. It had Good creative sci-fi elements, fresh use of time travel (and I’m a huge fan of 12 Monkeys, Back to the Future, Groundhog Day, heck, I even like Butterfly Effect and Source Code), good acting and makeup (Gordon-Levitt’s Willis accent and expressions were particularly impressive), some interesting camera and editing choices, and a lot of really cool action.

    Most importantly, the film had several clear themes; the obvious one on empty self-centeredness, and a particularly provocative line on utilitarian vs. deontological ethics. Imagine, if you could go back in time to when Adolf Hitler was ten years old, would you kill him? Would that be right or wrong? Would you take a chance and try and change his life? What would you do? I believe Looper presents a smiler scenario and takes the stance that it would be wrong, regardless of the consequences. Again, provocative stuff, right? My brother fell strongly on the utilitarian side and hated the movie (apparently he’s a very deterministic guy). I appreciated the movie merely for offering up such food for thought.

    So, ultimately, I don’t know what kind of sci-fi movie I should/could like if I didn’t like this one. I hear everyone’s criticisms, but I personally was never distracted, I was never frustrated, I thought the movie was fun, tense, provocative, and challenging, and would have a tough time coming up with “things-I-would-have-done-differently.” Oh well, that’s just my two or three cents.

  • JamDenTel

    SPOILERS.

    I agree with you, Clayton, that it was overrated, and I was honestly kind of disappointed–the reviews had built up my excitement level, but I found the film, while generally okay (I give it 70/100), to be lacking in some key aspects.

    Since I’ve already warned about spoilers, I might as well start with this: I didn’t care for the ending. Cid has already caused the deaths of two people and seems to be filled with dangerous anger–could he not, still, become the Rainmaker? We’ve already seen Old Joe kill one child, and he was clearly distraught over doing it–he’s not an indiscriminate slaughterer–so the reasoning behind Young Joe’s suicide is…what, exactly? Why not just kill Old Joe and stay with Sara and Cid, keeping an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t go bad? The people who were after him are all dead–so why not live a happy life with Sara? The ending really, as far as I’m concerned, can’t stand up to scrutiny.

    My other gripes with the film were less significant, but still worth noting. Emily Blunt isn’t bad, but…who thought casting her as a Kansas housewife was a good idea? Sara isn’t a terribly well written character either–her deflated toughness early on is pretty hoary–but the casting of Blunt just seems random.

    Rian Johnson’s writing here and there gets really heavy-handed, and worse, he makes surprisingly little use of the whole time-travel premise. The RT consensus calls it “uncommonly smart”…compared to what, exactly? There’s some cleverness at work here, yes, but UNCOMMONLY smart? I don’t see it.

    Finally, Paul Dano. Are we supposed to like his character? He’s ridiculously annoying, hammy, and all-around tiresome. It’s hard to believe he would have been an especially viable hitman to begin with, but that’s irrelevant; what IS relevant is the question of how much sympathy we’re meant to feel for him. I felt none, although the scene where is older self is being slowly dismembered while trying to reach his torturers is one of the best in the film.

    With all that out of the way, what did I LIKE about the film? Joseph Gordon-Levitt was good, Bruce Willis was good (although his presence just underscores the superiority of 12 Monkeys, a very similar film), Jeff Daniels was fun to see…the hedonistic montage early on was excellent, Joe’s 30 years in Shanghai was a compelling bit of montage as well, the action scenes were generally quite well done (including Old Joe’s rampage at the gang’s HQ), and the scene between the two Joes in the diner was very good indeed–in fact, the film needed more interaction between Gordon-Levitt and Willis, as that could’ve been the backbone of a great film, and not just one element of a very uneven one.

    • kristy

      young joes gun would not have been an accurate hit on old joe……guaranteed hit on himself! Also it showed he was no longer self centred which seemed to be a bit of a talking point in this movie.