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Rian Johnson
Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels , Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo
Writing Credits:
Rian Johnson

Face your future. Fight your past.

In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented - but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past where a 'looper' - a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good - until the day the mob decides to 'close the loop,' sending back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination. The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and also stars Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels.

Box Office:
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$20.801 million on 2992 screens.
Domestic Gross
$166.367 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Service
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 12/31/2012

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Rian Johnson and Actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt
• “From the Beginning” Featurette
bull; “Scoring Looper” Featurette
• “The Science of Time Travel” Featurette
• 22 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Animated Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Looper [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 25, 2012)

If 2012 goes down as the year in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt became a genuine movie star, much of the credit will go to his starring role in Looper. While the film wasn’t a big commercial hit, it generated excellent reviews, great buzz and a passionate fanbase, all of which seem likely to help push Gordon-Levitt up the “movie star ladder”.

We learn that in the year 2074, time travel gets invented – and instantly banned. However, criminal elements use it anyway, mainly as a way to get rid of dead bodies. Actually, the bosses send their targets back to 2044 alive, and there hired guns called “loopers” execute the time travelers in exchange for silver strapped to the soon-to-be-deceased.

Why 2044? Because by that point, the US has suffered severe economic woes and organized crime runs rampant, so the environment seems perfect for such sleazy goings-on.

Eventually every looper will have to “close the loop”. This means that their 30-years-older selves will be sent back and the looper will have to kill that senior version. The looper gets a big payday and becomes released from his contract so he can enjoy the next 30 years – well, as much as one can have fun with a death sentence over one’s head.

This usually works, but not always. Looper Seth (Paul Dano) chickens out when his older self appears and lets “Old Seth” (Frank Brennan) escape. Of course, he suffers severe consequences for this.

A similar situation soon ensues when another looper named Joe Simmons (Gordon-Levitt) encounters himself from 2074 (Bruce Willis). Young Joe briefly hesitates and Old Joe takes advantage; he assaults Young Joe and makes his escape. The film follows a variety of unusual paths as it traces their relationship and the manhunt to find the Joes. We also find involvement among Young Joe, single mother Sara (Emily Blunt) and her unusual son Cid (Pierce Gagnon); Young Joe gets to know them and we gradually learn of their impact on the future.

Like virtually all time-travel movies, Looper comes with its mix of confusion and contradictions. It’s tough to do, but it’s best if one tries to simply ignore logic in this sort of film. While Looper works hard to create science-fiction that makes sense, the scenarios get so complex that eventually your brain will hurt a little.

Which is why Looper works better on second viewing. When I saw it theatrically, I liked it but couldn’t quite get all the fuss about it. I thought it offered an interesting tale but not one that I felt lived up to all the hype and praise.

On second screening, I still can’t say I regard Looper as a great film, but I feel much more able to see its positives and can at minimum think of it as a very good one. I guess my little monkey brain couldn’t handle the plot machinations as well as I’d like that first time; I spent too much time trying to connect A to B to C and not enough simply absorbing the experience.

With that viewing under my belt, Screening Two on Blu-ray allowed me to open myself to the movie’s pleasures more easily. This wasn’t unlike my take on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring back in 2001. I went into that one blind – I’d never read the book – and found it tough to take in Tolkien’s complex new world. When I checked out the film a second time, it made much more sense to me. Looper doesn’t present a universe nearly as complicated as Tolkien’s, but it’s messy enough that it becomes a whole lot more understandable on second viewing.

Also like Lord of the Rings, Looper tells a fairly simple tale beneath its sci-fi/time-travel trappings. That doesn’t mean one should regard the external complexities as pretensions or unnecessary window-dressing. Instead, they’re important parts of what gives the film its personality, as without these elements, Looper would be a banal “manhunt” film.

It’s not the sci-fi elements that interest us in Looper, though – it’s the narrative and characters. The story seems really well-structured, as it layers ideas in with subtlety and requires the viewers to keep up with it. For example, when mentioned at the start of the film, the “TKs” – folks with telekinetic abilities – just feel like fantasy frills. However, that proves not to be the case; instead of the throwaway they appear to be, the TKs eventually play a major role in the proceedings.

Essentially a western, Looper builds its characters and events in a slow, reasoned manner. This allows us to better invest in them, as the movie doesn’t rush through any elements. Matters grow naturally and logically.

Looper also comes with a very good cast, though Gordon-Levitt himself can be a bit up and down. While he’s usually solid, at times he does too much of a Bruce Willis impersonation. I know that he needs to allow us to connect the two characters, and given Willis’s well-known personality, it’s easier for us to buy into Gordon-Levitt acting like Willis than the other way around. Nonetheless, some of Gordon-Levitt’s affections can distract, and the makeup he wears can also look goofy at times.

Despite those weaknesses, Gordon-Levitt still manages to serve as the center of the movie, and the others support him well. Young Pierce Gagnon deserves particular credit; he forgoes any of the standard kiddie actor cuteness to produce a real – and scary – performance.

Although I still think Looper gets more praise than it deserves, after two viewings, I better understand why it generated so much fuss. The film doesn’t reinvent any particular cinematic wheels, but it provides a tight, taut sci-fi-influenced western.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Looper appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film provided an attractive visual experience.

Sharpness proved excellent. At all times, the film displayed solid clarity and accuracy. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmer, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also failed to be a concern. The film featured natural levels of grain and didn’t appear to have been subjected to excessive noise reduction.

Like most modern films of this sort, the movie went with a subdued, stylistic palette. A moderately bluish tint appeared at times, and other sequences went with a mild golden tone. The hues reflected the nature of the material and looked fine. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed decent. Across the board, this was an excellent transfer.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Looper. The film’s action pieces offered the most dynamic elements. Sequences with explosions, gunfire and chases opened up the soundfield well and gave us a nice sense of involvement. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the flick used the surrounds well. The back speakers worked as active participants and placed us in the action.

Audio quality proved pleasing. Speech was natural and distinctive, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared lively and dynamic, and effects fared well. Those elements sounded full and rich at all times. Low-end response was quite good and brought out a good sense of depth. This turned into a positive package.

When we move to the set’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Rian Johnson and actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of story and characters, makeup and effects, cast and performances, sets and locations, editing and deleted scenes, and music.

Though it’s nice to have the actors along, they don’t add a lot to the conversation. Johnson does most of the heavy lifting and allows this to become an informative piece. While I’d like more thoughts about the story and characters, we still find a useful, well-paced track here.

Three featurettes follow. The Future From the Beginning goes for seven minutes, 52 seconds and includes notes from Gordon-Levitt, Blunt, Johnson, producer Ram Bergman, cinematographer Steve Yedlin, and actors Bruce Willis, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, and Piper Perabo. The show looks at the project’s origins and development, script/story/character areas, cast and performances, makeup and effects. This is a quick, promotional piece, but it has a few decent notes.

In the 16-minute, 18-second Scoring Looper, we locate info from composer Nathan Johnson. He gives us some notes about the unusual methods he used for the score, and then we see/hear a few scenes with isolated music. Apparently these were created as online previews for the film; Johnson delivers some useful material and the compilation of clips works well.

The Science of Time Travel lasts eight minutes, 29 seconds and provides info from Rian Johnson, Blunt, Gordon-Levitt, Willis, Perabo, Dano, Segan, and How to Build a Time Machine author Brian Clegg. They chat about aspects of theoretical time travel and its depiction in the movie. This exists essentially as promotion, but it has some intriguing thoughts along the way.

22 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 36 minutes, 50 seconds. That’s a lot of added footage, and as often occurs in situations like this, much of it concentrates on secondary characters/plot areas. Kid Blue receives a fair amount of extra time, and we see a bit more related to Suzie and her child.

Arguable the most substantial additions/changes relate to Joe, though. We see a longer version of the “future Joe’s life” montage, and another sequence lets us see more of Old Joe’s relationship with his wife. The Old Joe/Young Joe scene receives an extension as well. I can’t find anything here I’d view as crucial, but some worthwhile moments appear; it’d be interesting to see an extended cut of the film with some of these restored.

We can view these with or without commentary from Rian Johnson and Noah Segan. They give us some thoughts about the sequences as well as why they were omitted from the final film. The chat can be a bit spotty, but we learn enough to justify its presence.

For something unusual, we find an Animated Trailer. This uses a variety of artistic styles to convey scenes and concepts from the movie. It’s a cool variation on the standard trailer.

The disc opens with ads for Parker, Premium Rush and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. These pop up under Previews along with ads for Company of Heroes, Seven Psychopaths and Lockout.

While the film left me a bit cold when I first saw it, Looper holds up to additional viewings well. Indeed, more scrutiny allowed me to better appreciate its charms and see it as a rich, involving character western with sci-fi elements to give it some spice. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio along with a good roster of supplements. Looper earns my recommendation as an entertaining, impressing piece of work.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6842 Stars Number of Votes: 38
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