by Matt J. Popham
An initially intriguing, if ultimately uninvolving, sci-fi flick replete with all the best and worst aspects of a Roger Corman-esque B-movie: a fascinating universe created with vivid detail on a modest budget, a unique story that crumbles upon close examination and a zealous prioritizing of stylish narrative over character. For such a good cast, the performances – which could have given life to the cardboard characters on the page – are disappointingly flat and blank. The usually reliable Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns in, not so much a performance, as a superficial and distracting impression of Bruce Willis, who, as Gordon-Levitt’s older self, really does seem like he’s phoning in his role from the future. The ever-watchable Emily Blunt does the best she can with the near-nothing she’s given. And only Jeff Daniels shines as a crime boss whom you spend most of the movie wishing had more screen time. As I watched, I kept thinking that the director really failed the screenwriter. “He could have taken these great ideas and really fleshed them out, added more dimension to tell a more involving and affecting story.” It wasn’t until the end credits that I remembered that the writer and director were one and the same. (Ha… Take a lesson, apprentice auteurs…) In the end, Looper is a grab-bag of interesting ideas and rough character sketches that never really amount to much. There are a number of remarkable stories that could have been told in and about the world that Rian Johnson created. He just elected not to tell any of them.