2012 sure has been an interesting year for film. So far, aside from maybe a few independent films, the best ones have been genre fare. Everything from The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Ted, The Cabin in the Woods, even 21 Jump Street come to mind alongside the likes of Moonsrise Kingdom, Safety Not Guaranteed, Jeff Who Lives at Home, ParaNorman, Sleepwalk with Me, and For a Good Time, Call… It just dawned on me that before last night, these were my top films of the year. To round out an even dozen, it is with great relish I introduce to you the film that tops them all, writer/director Rian Johnson’s Looper.
The less said about plot the better here so I’ll keep things as brief as possible. But let’s get this out of the way right now — the first rule about the plot of Looper is you don’t talk about the plot of Looper. Everything you need to know to get you started has been explained in the trailer. In Kansas 2044, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) informs us that time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but it will. It will be outlawed and overrun by crime lords who begin using it for the sole purpose of exterminating criminals by sending them back to the past (the film’s present) with a bag over their head and silver plates strapped to their backs to be killed by the titular “loopers.” It’s when one shows up with gold bars that you know you’ve closed your loop meaning you’ve just terminated your future self. When Old Joe (Bruce Willis) gets away from the younger version of himself, the plot kicks into high gear.
Brimming with indie sensibility yet mainstream enough to keep the remaining moviegoers entertained, Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) has written and directed, so far, the best film of the year. With equal doses of wicked humor, brutal violence, and surprising emotion, Johnson also mixes together elements from any Philip K. Dick adaptation and fused it with time travel that kicks everything up a notch. Some of the best time travel movies so far have been pretty limited. Of course you have the Back to the Future trilogy, but aside from those, the best two would be Timecrimes and Primer. Johnson gives them all a run for their money, along with the rest of the year. While we may be headed right into Oscar season, this is the kind of film the Academy should not overlook. If everyone thought The Dark Knight deserved to be nominated, Looper could possibly win.
Photo courtesy TriStar Pictures