Dvd let­ter­box

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey

Road­show (73min, $24.95) IF one were a pre­co­cious di­rec­tor, a time­travel film would be an ob­vi­ous call­ing card.

At least that’s what I thought while watch­ing Rian John­son’s third film, Looper, the one that el­e­vated him quickly, even to the point of wild spec­u­la­tion that he could di­rect the next Star Wars movie. He’s not; JJ Abrams is.

Looper is a fu­tur­is­tic thriller star­ring Joseph Gor­don-Le­vitt as a ‘‘looper’’ who dis­poses of bod­ies sent back 30 years by mafia vil­lains.

Maybe I’m too cyn­i­cal, but John­son’s in­tel­li­gent writ­ing re­called that of the Nolan brothers ( Me­mento) and of the Wa­chowskis (the Ma­trix se­ries). In a man­nered way.

Like those films, Looper (MA15+, Road­show, 114min, $39.95) wears its pre­ten­sions boldly, ask­ing view­ers not to try too hard to un­ravel in­con­sis­ten­cies in logic let alone pon­der the odds of a fu­ture con­tain­ing time travel.

At the same time, it is rather showy. But it’s a very good film and con­se­quently a great call­ing card.

As you watch, you sense stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives are si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­ing ca­joled into think­ing: ‘‘Sure, you’ve made a movie that feels smart and has some cool spe­cial ef­fects. We be­lieve you, like Christo­pher Nolan, can rein­vent our mori­bund comic book se­ries.’’

Looper’s trick is that it isn’t really a time travel movie. And its vi­sion of the fu­ture — a loose anar­chy, eye-drop hal­lu­cino­gens and ram­pant guns — isn’t par­tic­u­larly pro­gres­sive.

Last week my young son watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stan­ley Kubrick’s in­cred­i­ble 1968 film pre­dicted Skype, iPads, in-seat en­ter­tain­ment, space shut­tles and much more. Now, that was pro­gres­sive.

Looper isn’t about cre­at­ing a bam­boo­zling Mi­nor­ity Report- type fu­ture though. At its core, Looper’s strength is its hu­man­ism in ask­ing what a 50-year-old would tell his or her 20-some­thing self (even if your old Bruce Wil­lis doesn’t look much like your young Gor­don-Le­vitt). And also in ask­ing how far would you go for love.

John­son has wrapped that up with all the stylis­tic trap­pings of a a good ol’ fash­ioned ac­tion thriller: a chase, gun fights and more lens flares than a JJ Abrams film. Very deftly.

I’m not sure many would have thought he had a Looper in him af­ter his mis­fir­ing The Brothers Bloom. That ro­man­tic ac­tion com­edy was pre­cisely the film one would ex­pect from a di­rec­tor coming off a bril­liant noir thriller and low-bud­get de­but, Brick, in 2006.

The Brothers Bloom looked like a Wes An­der­son film and, like most Wes An­der­son movies, fell tan­ta­lis­ingly short of be­ing a com­plete film.

Looper, with its crack­ing screen­play and neat per­for­mances from Gor­don-Le­vitt, Wil­lis and Emily Blunt, is a com­plete film. Al­beit one that is very happy with it­self.

This week

(MA15+) Uni­ver­sal (116min, $29.99)

(M) Uni­ver­sal/Sony (116min, $29.99)

(MA15+) Road­show (260min, $29.95)

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