Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On DVD-Blu-ray: Rian Johnson's LOOPER--enormous intelligence & empty characters

You've got to hand it to writer/director Rian Johnson, shown below, who's given us Brick, The Brothers Bloom and now LOOPER -- out this week on Blu-ray and DVD. Few film-makers have been this "creative" and original with plot points and genre expan-sion, while placing all this in the hands of characters who are nothing more than constructs to carry off those terrific story surprises. Consequently, as inventive as are his tales, you may begin, as did we by the halfway point, to long for a mo-ment or two of genuine quirky humanity from the people on view.

Don't hold your breath. These are among the most robotic of suppo-sed human beings (and no, robots are not among the plot points here), despite being limned by a crew of very good actors, on whom you can usually count to provide some nice touches along the way. Instead, their every action and response seem at the mercy of a wickedly convo-luted tale of time travel amongst hit men that cherry picks its delectables by way of everything from The Terminator to Logan's Run (but with double the lifespan). This is almost the reverse of Safety Not Guaranteed, which was all quirky, wonderful characters but included little sci-fi or time-travel info.

Consequently, actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt (above right), Emily Blunt (below) and Bruce Willis (above, left) seem somehow caged. Blunt tries hardest as the put-upon mother, while the two guys remain cool as cucumbers throughout. Everyone rises to his or her cliché. Events may surprise us; characters always remain hostage to them.

Interestingly enough, it's Jeff Daniels (shown below, left, with Noah Segan) as the big boy in charge who registers most strongly. He's honest and scary and seems, overall, to be somebody real.

There are some good, if gross, special effects here and there, and even an unusual explosion involving a human being. The finale is fun, and as creative as all the rest of Johnson's oeuvre. It would even have been moving, had I, by that point, cared a fig about any of the people I was watching.

 If you missed it in theaters, where it had good success worldwide, Looper arrived yesterday, December 31, on DVD and Blu-ray -- for sale or/or rental.

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