Looper [Blu-Ray] Rian Johnson

Looper [Blu-Ray] Rian Johnson
7
Divorced from expectations of a thorough mind fucking, Looper's merits stand taller upon a second viewing. However, as fantastically well-made and acted as Rian Johnson's first swing in the big leagues is, there's still something suspiciously underwhelming about the Joseph Gordon-Levitt-starring time travel thriller. Perhaps Johnson's script is a tad too intuitive — once the dots are visible, they almost connect themselves. None of this is meant as faint or damning praise, but the film is just so close to excellence on every level that it's hard not to want it to be just a little more intellectually wowing. As it is, Looper is a damn fine piece of smart and fresh sci-fi action noir. One of Johnson's cleverest tricks is how the advertised premise serves as a red herring, of sorts — if you think this film is just about short-sighted assassins who agree to murder their future selves for 30 years of responsibility-free wealth, think again. Classic temporal alteration conundrums like, "how far would you go to change the future?" and "are your past and future selves really the same person?" rub shoulders with questions of nature vs. nurture and the concept of mutable destiny to create a heady stew of ideas to chew over between all the inventive action and violence. Even though his face is augmented with prosthetics to create an eerily believable resemblance to Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's adoption of the elder star's recognizable vocal cadence, body language and facial tics is more impressive than any special effect. Beyond Levitt's accomplished character work, the supporting cast is uniformly strong, especially Emily Blunt and young Pierce Gagnon, who could well be the next Haley Joel Osment (but with hopefully more longevity). Displaying Johnson's passion for the project, the Blu-Ray is crammed full of interesting special features. The large collection of deleted scenes, with optional commentary from the director and Noah Segan (Dead Girl), who plays gun-toting jackass Kid Blue, is of an unusually high quality. Many great shots (including a Kid Koala cameo) and solid scenes (an expanded time travel explanation) were victims of pacing more than anything else. The obligatory "making of," clumsily titled "The Future: From the Beginning," reveals a great deal of information that goes beyond the usual celebratory talking heads and doesn't overstay its welcome. "The Science of Time Travel," with How to Build a Time Machine author Brain Clegg, gives some fascinating background to the history of time travel theory, but is unnecessarily clip-heavy. Far and away the most engaging of the special features is an in-depth series of web previews of Nathan Johnson's unique approach to scoring the film, detailing the creation of a found-sound orchestra to build the tonally distinct, rhythm-based motifs. A trailer animated in rough pastels is kind of neat, but hardly necessary, unlike an info-packed commentary track with Johnson, Blunt and Levitt. (Alliance)