It’s tough to get my friend Jim out to see a movie. Don’t get me wrong, he loves movies, but he loves them much more OFNF – On Flatscreen Near Fridge. He’s the nightmare scenario personified for box office ticket sales; a patient man with a home theater. The last movie I drew him out for was Seven Psychopaths, and as luck would have it, it’s on The Unreasonable Movie Project list. I asked Jim if he would see it again with me and help evaluate this BAFTA Outstanding British Film of the Year nominee, and with a DVD copy at his place, that’s just what we did.
Jim was also going to help me with Looper, because there are a ton of similarities between these movies:
- I’ve seen them both already
- For each, the director was also the screen writer
- Both have excellent screenplays, with well-developed characters
- Both have violent action
- The Jack of Diamonds (Sam Rockwell)
- The Quaker who avenges his daughter’s murder (Christopher Walken)
- The Mobster who loses his dog (Woody Harrelson)
- The Vietnamese Buddhist
- Maggie, serial killer of serial killers, one-time wife of…
- Zachariah (Tom Waits), serial killer of serial killers, one-time husband of Maggie
- Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell)
The short version of the plot summary is this: The year is 2044, and time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but by 2074 it has. A group of young criminals, called loopers, are hired by a future criminal organization to kill people who are being sent from 2074 back to 2044. Evidently disposing of dead bodies is impossible in the future because of ID tracking, so the loopers make them disappear in the past.
The main character is Joe, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt and made up to look like a young Bruce Willis, who plays older Joe. When young Joe is sent the older version of himself to kill, he hesitates, and older Joe escapes. Pandemonium ensues (future people running around in the past is ‘bad,’ we’re told in a nonspecific way). Older Joe believes that if he can track down the head of the 2074 criminal organization and kill him as a child in the past, he will be placed back in the future with his beloved wife.
Willis is trying to track down and kill a kid, young Joe is trying to kill him to make up for his mistake, and the criminal organization that employs the loopers is trying to kill them both. Thankfully the writing provides a framework for it all. It’s very inventive, at one point using scars to communicate messages to the future. And when the young and old Joe meet face to face, the young Joe says “Your face looks backward.” Little flourishes like that make it a very smart screenplay. How can you not be intrigued by the only movie you’ll ever see where Bruce Willis shoots someone and then breaks down and cries?
I have to sound the Stuhlbarg Syndrome Alert again (actor appears in more than 1 movie in a given year). Emily Blunt appears in this movie too, and actually gets to flex her dramatic muscles much more here than she does in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Playing the mother of the future criminal mastermind, she will stop at nothing to protect her son. She knows the older Joe is coming for him, but she’s not quite sure if she can trust the young Joe to help her stop him. She has to be tough in a tough world, but she’s barely keeping it together. Blunt is just one more reason this is one of the best action movies in years. I’m giving Looper an $8.00.
How is it that Blunt can pull off the American accent so well? Why are English and Australian actors so good at this, and American actors are so bad? In every source I can find online, there are arguments as to whether Americans such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, and Meryl Streep actually have good British accents, or are merely passable. The only group I can find that are universally hailed as Americans having great British accents are, you guessed it, the guys from Spinal Tap. Congrats all you American thespians [sarcasm], you’ve set the bar at…11?
Unsolicited Valentine’s Day Tip from The Unreasonable Movie Project to all the guys out there: Since we all love Bruce Willis (in a masculine kind of way), don’t forget to take your sweetie to the new Die Hard: A Good Day to Die Hard this Thursday. It’s better than jewelry. She’ll love it!
Jay Kelly blogs at The Head Fake.