First off, this is a smarter than average piece of Sci-fi.  As I’ve mentioned before, there are some movies I will see purely for their pedigree, even before I know the plot, Looper was one those movies.  Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, 2005) it also stars Joseph Godon-Levitt who also took the lead  in the same neo-noir classic.  Throw in Bruce Willis for some fun and we’ve a good mix.

In statistics two does not usually make a trend, but in cinema it might just.  This is the second major movie this year where the lead characters are the same person but from different times. We saw this first in Men In Black III (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2012, see below) In tha movie our heroes went back in time to affect the future. The comic nature of the movie allowed Josh Brolin to do an excellent impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones’ character “K”. With Looper we do not have an established character such as “K”, so we could not as readily pick up on the mannerisms and peculiarities of the character, the physical characteristics had to be the key.

Now any of you old enough to remember Moonlighting (1985) will remember know that J G-L is not a dead ringer for the younger Bruce Willis. However some neat special effects and make up gave us two actors playing the same character, check the eyebrow movements and even the shape of the nose.  I have to say the altered JG-L took a little getting used to , especially since Premium Rush (See Below) is so fresh.

All that aside the story revolves around a young man who has become a “Looper”, essentially a mafia hit man with a difference.  In the future time travel is perfected and quickly outlawed.  However other advances in biometrics also mean that the killing and dumping of victims has become almost impossible. As a result the mafia in the future employs the illegal time travel, all one way in to the past and sends one of its top men, Abe, (Jeff Daniels, The Lookout, 2007 – also staring Joseph Gordon Levitt) back to the “present” of the story and has him set up his own crime organisation.  Daniels and Gordon Levitt are two very versatile actors not afraid to stretch their range and always know just how far to stretch. There is a cold danger to the Character of Abe which comes across nicely.  As part of this he hires a team of young men to act as Loopers. They go to a certain place at a certain time and the victim appears, they quickly shoot them, take the payment silver bars attached to the body and then dispose of the body. All very neat and tidy.  Earning all concerned an nice living (with the exception of the now dead victim). Life is good until Loopers start getting paid off by their future bosses. The nature of the pay-off is the issue of concern, They unknowingly kill their future selves; the problem is that when their victims appear they are hooded and in straight-jackets facing away from their executioner.  But things go wrong, one survives and people find out what is happening – they get paid off in gold and know they have about 30 years of life left.

With our main characters this goes spectacularly wrong, future Joe, survives, manages to convince present Joe of the issue and while both are being hunted by the mafia, Noah Sagan (you guessed it…Brick) is a hapless mob lieutenant not in good favour with Abe who takes the hunt for Joe extremely seriously and eventually captures him and takes him to Abe, with deadly results for most concerned. Meanwhile older Joe is hunting down the person,  who in the future will be the crime king-pin who has the loopers killed.  Joe Junior goes to one of the addresses, which turns out to be the one. A lone mother, (Emily Blunt, The Adjustment Bureau, 2011), who as it turns out is protecting a very gifted child in an isolated farm.  Ultimately the battle culminates in this isolated farm…

This movie is based on very philosophical science, and I thought I noticed the soundtrack (at least twice) sounding very Whovian at the point where the  time travel occurred . They successfully managed to convey the plot while carefully avoiding all of the science but keeping within the rules of time travel as understood (I’m sad enough to principles of the science involved). This is good solid entertainment.  It slows a little in the middle but picks up again building to the climax.

Entertainment from a cast largely used to working together and it shows.

Rating = 7/10

Premium Rush

This is a movie that knows what it is – entertainment.  I saw the posters and wasn’t overly sold on the idea of a courier being chased around New York; then I looked and saw the cast list and decided it was worth a try, any movie with Joseph Gordon-Gordon-Levitt (The Lookout, 2007) usually is, it got me thinking there might be an angle to this movie.

This is an original slightly quirky but entertaining movie. Directed by David Koepp (Stir of Echoes, 1999) and also co-written by him with John Kamps (Ghost Town, 2008). Essentially the story evolves around a group of New York cycle couriers. Our Hero, Wilee (all through the movie I thought his name was “Reilly”) is hired to take a package across the city by 7pm. The thing is he was hired by his girlfriend’s former room-mate, Nima (Jamie Chung, The Hangover Part II, 2011) who asked for him specifically. It turns out he is the only person she trusts to deliver the envelope. Why the trust because it is worth about $50,000 and is essentially a promissory note to a Chinese gang leader in payment for Nima’s son to come over from China – watch the movie for the details.

Ordinarilly this would all be fine except at around the same time, there is a police detective with a gambling problem who owes a considerable amount of money and decides to go further in, in the hope of getting out of his predicament. As a result of killing a Chinese street kid that he took his anger out on, he’s now a liability and  also must get the ticket to pay his debts. Detective Monday (Michael Shannon Machine Gun Preacher, 2011 is a man who just went over the edge and is fighting (and failing) to hold on to what  little sanity he has as he chases down Wilee and the ticket.

As if Wilee hasn’t enough to do he has to try make-it-up to his girlfriend Vanessa (Entourage, 2010) while at the same time ensuring his love rival Manny (Wolé Parks, As The World Turns 2007). All this might be enough to ruin an normal day, but the rivalry with Manny results in them getting the attention of NYPD cycle cop played by Christopher Place (CSI NY, 2006), although usually employed as a stunt man, he works well as part  of the comic side.

The fact that they use Place, a stunt man, will give you an indication that not all is safe and well of the streets. The chases are fast and more than nerve wracking. This is parkour on bikes.  An interesting slant is the “time-outs” Wilee takes during the chases to look at his options and try go for the least fatal. This is similar to the device used in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (See Below) when our eponymous hero plans out his fight moves.

Through twists turns and falls the movie moves to a satisfying climax which works well, in line with the overall flow of the movie. The soundtrack also works well, with one final exception – the closing track Baba O’Reilly from Pete Townsend & The Who. There is nothing wrong with this track except as soon as I heard it I immendiately jumped to to thinking of a certain New York based police procedural show mentioned above. IT ofcourse did not help my “Reilly” mistake.  A fine piece of music but one which I heard a few times lately when I should not have.

That said the script is sparse, the vocal and visual jokes work and the supporting cast of familiar faces bring the movie home.  Uncomplicated fun