Archive for Loopers

LOOPER (2012)

Posted in 2012, Action Movies, Bruce Willis Films, Cinema Knife Fights, Crime Films, LL Soares Reviews, Science Fiction, Suspense, The Future, The Mob, Time Travel with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by knifefighter

By L.L. Soares

(SCENE 1: Somewhere in the future. L.L. SOARES has a bag over his head and jumps into a weird pod-like machine. He’s out of breath from escaping from a bunch of thugs and pulls the sack off his head just as the machine activates and sends him hurtling through time…)

(SCENE 2: MICHAEL ARRUDA stands in the middle of a field, holding a large gun. In front of him is a tarp spread out on the ground. He looks at his pocket watch to confirm the time)

(Suddenly, LS appears on the tarp. MA lifts his gun, then stops)

LS: Michael, it’s me. I know I look older, but it’s L.L.

MA: I don’t understand. I was supposed to shoot whoever came back from the future…

LS: Well, you can’t shoot me. Then there won’t be any more Cinema Knife Fight column. Right?

MA (hesitates): I guess so. But I have my orders.

LS: Screw your orders. (he gets up and walks toward MA). I’m here to review the new movie LOOPER, have you seen it yet?

MA: No, I haven’t. Did you come from the future to tell me about it?

LS: Yes, exactly. (points to his gun) So we’re cool, right?

MA: Yeah (puts down the gun)

LS: Sucker! (pulls out a gun from his waistband and plugs MA)

(As LS laughs, we go back to the future, where LS enters a pod, out of breath, and pulls that sack off his head again. The machine activates, and we spiral down a corridor of time)

LS: Uh oh. I think I got trapped in a time warp this time. My karma has finally caught up with me.

(Looks at audience)

Well, looks like I’ve got some time on my hands. Might as well do that LOOPER review I mentioned earlier.

LOOPER a clever science fiction film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. I actually wasn’t all that excited about it going in. It looked like just another gimmicky sci-fi film, and I felt like I’d seen the whole story based on the trailer. But thankfully, I was wrong. For once, I was surprised and LOOPER was much better than I expected.

The story is told from the point of view of Joe (Gordon-Levitt) who explains that he is a Looper. In the future (30 years from now, to be specific), time travel is illegal, but it’s used by organized crime. Also, due to various tagging methods, it is also near impossible to get rid of a body after killing someone in the future. So the gangsters of the future use time travel to kill two birds with one stone. They’ve sent an emissary to our time named Abe (Jeff Daniels) to set things up. He recruits people to be assassins called Loopers. Victims from the future are sent back in time, the Loopers shoot them and then dispose of the bodies. And it seems to be a very effective way to get rid of unwanted people.

Except every once in a while someone finds that the person they’ve been hired to kill is him or herself, sent from the future to “close the loop.” It’s then that they’re given a big payday and forced to retire, knowing that in 30 years, they’re going to die.

Get it?

Joe’s doing quite well. He’s got money, girls and lots of some weird drug he applies with eyedrops and that keeps him happy. Then one day he goes out in the abandoned field where he kills his victims, and comes face to face with an older version of himself, who he calls Old Joe (Bruce Willis). Old Joe isn’t bound and his head isn’t covered, like most of the victims. He is able to keep from getting shot—since he knows what his younger self is going to do—and cold cocks Joe. When Joe wakes up, Old Joe is long gone and he’s in a world of trouble with his bosses. If he doesn’t track Old Joe down and get rid of him, all hell is going to break loose. But Joe’s superiors are going to think he let his older self go on purpose (some guys just can’t bring themselves to kill their older selves when faced with the prospect), so he’s going to have elude them, too, while he tries to set things straight.

Oh yeah, there’s another subplot in the mix. Aside from Loopers, there’s also a group of evolved people called TKs (as in telekinetics). Most of them can’t do much more than float quarters with their minds, but there’s some guy in the future called the Rainmaker, who can do a lot more than that, and he’s taking over the crime gangs. Which is why so many loopers lately have been coming face to face with their older selves and being forced to close the loop.

That’s the background stuff. But LOOPER is so much more than just a concept. It’s about characters – characters who are pretty well fleshed out for a big budget gimmicky science fiction movie with an A-list cast. This isn’t your average futuristic crime movie. LOOPER is smart, well-written, and well acted.

Aside from Gordon-Levitt (who just seems to get better and better in each movie I see him in) and Willis (people in the audience were actually cheering during any scene where Willis got ahold of a gun), there’s also Emily Blunt as a woman who takes the wounded Joe in after he’s ambushed by his fellow loopers. Her name is Sara and she takes care of a little boy named Cid, who is a lot more important to the story than he first seems. Blunt is excellent here, and Pierce Gagnon is really good as little Cid, who seems smart and inquisitive sometimes and other times is just plain scary.

The rest of the cast is solid and includes Paul Dano, Piper Perabo and the always reliable Jeff Daniels (as I mentioned before).

The movie was written and directed by Rian Johnson  Johnson also made the very interesting “high school noir” flick BRICK (2005), also starring Gordon-Levitt (and it’s so odd, it’s worth checking out), and directed episodes of AMC’s BREAKING BAD and the short-lived FX series TERRIERS. He’s made a compelling little movie with LOOPER and I think he’s going to be someone worth watching in the future.

Because one of the stars is Bruce Willis, and it involves his character being sent here from the future, I guess comparisons to Terry Gilliam’s TWLEVE MONKEYS (1995) are unavoidable, but the stories are very different. They do, however, share the fact that they’re above-average for Hollywood sci-fi films.

I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was smart and riveting throughout, and it even had a dark humor to it at times. I thought Gordon-Levitt and Willis were terrific here (there’s even one scene where Willis grabs a gun and goes on a rampage in the bad guys’ lair that reminded me a lot of Chan-wook Park’s OLDBOY, 2003).

I give LOOPER, four knives.

(LS is still spinning through time, when he suddenly lands on top of that tarp, in the middle of a field again. MICHAEL ARRUDA stands before him, aiming a gun)

LS: Michael, it’s me. I know I look older, but don’t shoot. It’s L.L.

MA: I feel like we’ve done this before.

LS: Put the gun down. You can’t shoot me. Then there won’t be a Cinema Knife Fight column anymore.

MA (hesitates): Why do I have such a hard time trusting you?

(CLOSE-UP of LS’s eyes, pleading)


© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

LL Soares gives LOOPER  ~FOUR knives (out of five).


Cinema Knife Fight Coming Attractions for SEPTEMBER 2012

Posted in 2012, 3-D, Based on a Video Game, Based on Comic Book, Based on TV Show, Coming Attractions, Science Fiction, The Future, Time Travel with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2012 by knifefighter

by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

(The Scene:  A carnival.  MICHAEL ARRUDA & L.L. SOARES are standing in front of various trick mirrors that make them look incredibly short, amazingly tall, exceedingly fat, and with humongous oversized heads.)

LS:  So, what’s with all the trick mirrors?  (looks at his reflection which gives him a huge head.)  Are you trying to tell me I have a big ego or something?

MA:  Too obvious.  No, these mirrors symbolize this September’s movies.

LS:  How do you figure?

MA: Well, there seems to be a lot of deceit and trickery in this month’s movies, so I thought this carnival would be the perfect setting to have us tell the folks what we’ll be reviewing in September.

LS:  Really?  Well, there’s no trickery in the month’s first offering, THE IN-BETWEENERS, which opens on September 7.  At least I don’t think so. It’s based on a British TV show, and is about four nerdy kids who will do anything to have sex while on vacation. It looks like it will try to push the envelope like the HANGOVER movies. I can’t really tell if it will be funny or just plain embarrassing. The teen protagonists look incredibly annoying.

MA:  I like British humor, and I’m looking forward to this one.  I’m just not sure how wide a release this one is getting, and so it may not be playing at a theater near me.

If this proves to be the case, I will most likely review something else, as there are a couple of other movies opening this weekend.

There’s THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY, a new thriller starring Henry Cavill, the star of IMMORTALS (2011) and the next Superman in next year’s MAN OF STEEL, as a young man whose family is kidnapped while they’re on vacation, and he learns that his father (Bruce Willis) works for the CIA.  It doesn’t sound all that exciting to me, mostly because it doesn’t seem all that original.

The one thing that I am looking forward to regarding this one is that Sigourney Weaver is playing the villain, so that might be worth something.

It also has a pretty bad title.

The other film of interest that opens this weekend is the science fiction thriller BRANDED (2012), another conspiracy story, this one about a futuristic society in which people are deliberately brainwashed by product ads by an evil corporation, and one man’s attempts to buck the system and fight back.  This one stars Max Von Sydow as the baddie.  Could be good.  Could be unoriginal and uninspiring.

LS: I remember seeing the trailer for that awhile back. Once again, a movie that might be in limited release. I think I’d rather see BRANDED over THE IN-BETWEENERS. But I guess it’s possible we might see neither the weekend of September 7th. I’m getting sick of movies only being in limited release. So it may be a surprise which ones we end up reviewing this weekend.

I wonder how many movies we’ve announced in COMING ATTRACTIONS that we said we were going to review, but never did because the movies never played anywhere near us.

MA: I’d say quite a few.  It’s a pain.

On September 14, we’ll be reviewing the latest RESIDENT EVIL movie, RESIDENT EVIL:  RETRIBUTION (2012).  And it’s in 3D.  Oh joy!

While I like the RESIDENT EVIL movies, I’m hardly excited by them.  Why?  I find their stories to be a bit of a bore.  For instance, in this one, what do we have?  We have Alice (Milla Jovovich) once again fighting the evil Umbrella Corporation.  Ho hum.

Granted, Jovovich is very good in these movies, and she’s the main reason I like them, but she can only carry them so far.  The trailer for this one makes it seem like a rip-off of TOTAL RECALL as it goes on about everything she ever knew in her life being fake, an implanted memory, blah blah blah.

It’s written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.  This is the third RESIDENT EVIL movie he’s directed, and he’s written all five of them.

LS:  I remember liking the last one okay. That was in 3D, too. But it ended in such a blatantly obvious way—right in the middle of the story—that you knew a sequel was already in the works. Talk about flogging a dead horse. End this damn series already! It’s starting to get tedious. Even if I agree about Jovovich—she’s the only reason to see any of these movies—I really don’t understand why anyone continues to go see them.

MA:  On September 21, I’ll be reviewing DREDD (2012) solo, since L.L. will have that weekend off.  I can’t say that I’m looking forward to this one either, but it’s an action movie based on the comics’ character, so there’s hope for it I guess.  And not to be outdone by RESIDENT EVIL, it’s also coming to us in 3D!

It stars Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, and I have to admit I’ve enjoyed this guy’s performances in recent years.  He was excellent as Dr. McCoy in the J.J. Abrams reboot of STAR TREK (2009), and he was the only good thing in the awful horror movie PRIEST (2011) as he played the villain Black Hat.  So, if he’s allowed to act and not just be a special effect in one fight scene after another, this one just could be good after all.

LS:  I actually want to see DREDD, since the character (who originated in British comic book 2000 AD) is pretty cool. Unlike that lame Sylvester Stallone movie from the 80s. I bet you the new movie is a big improvement, if they stick to the source material. Maybe I’ll see it afterwards and provide a follow-up review to yours, if it’s worth seeing.

And then, on September 28, I’ll be reviewing LOOPER solo as it’s Michael’s turn to have the weekend off.  This one could be interesting. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hit man who kills people for the future who are sent back in time for elimination. But what happens when the guy he’s supposed to kill is an older version himself? With Bruce Willis as Levitt’s older self. This might be one time travel flick worth seeing. I hope.

MA:  As much as I like time travel stories, based on the previews, this one doesn’t excite me, so I’m not unhappy I’ll be missing it.  I do enjoy Bruce Willis though, who seems to be popping up in a new movie every couple of weeks these days!  So maybe— maybe I’ll see this one afterwards and then write my own follow-up review to yours.

LS:  Copycat!

MA:  So, that wraps things up for the month of September.  Sadly, none of the movies this month do much for me.

LS:  Yeah, it’s sounds like a mediocre month at the movies.

MA:  Personally, I could be just as entertained by these goofy carnival mirrors.  And I wouldn’t have to pay extra for 3D glasses!

LS:  That’s just like you to suggest something boring and then think it’s fun!  What are you going to do?  Sit around here all day and watch people look at themselves in these mirrors?  That’s creepy!

MA:  No, what’s creepy is when someone looks into one of those mirrors and sees something they’re not expecting to see.  Hmm.  That gives me an idea.  (whispers in LS’ ear.)

(CUT TO: Several little kids laughing at their images in the carnival mirrors, but when they get to the fourth mirror, they scream and run away.  Camera reveals the mirror is missing, and in its place, in the center of the empty frame, stands LS in horror make-up with blood dripping from his lips.  Camera pulls back to see MA wearing a top hat and speaking into a megaphone.)

MA:  Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and see the hideous monster in the mirror.  More hideous than Freddy Krueger, scarier than a PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movie, one look and you’ll scream in terror!  (aside to camera) We have to earn a living somehow!


© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda & L.L. Soares