Looper (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Science fiction mixed with a slice of film noir has succeeded with such films as Blade Runner and Minority Report, and with Looper, director Rian Johnson’s inventive take on time travel and karma, the blend works once again.  The director’s passions for non-linear storytelling and bending time worn genres to his will, as evidenced with the Dashiell Hammett inspired Brick and the underrated con artist confection The Brothers Bloom, is also in full form with Looper.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who previously worked with Johnson in Brick, stars as Joe, a hired killer who exterminates hooded figures who have traveled from 30 years into the future.  His job pays him in silver bars, which he has diligently collected over the years to pay for a retirement that, in his line of work, may never come.  As a “looper,” Joe’s killing comes with a price – he must kill his future self once his contract is over to essentially cover his tracks (it’s called “closing the loop”).  Unfortunately, older Joe (Bruce Willis) is not exactly willing to die; once he’s sent back to the past he’s on the hunt to kill a kid who will grow up to become a devastating killer known as “The Rainmaker.”

Emily Blunt, Piper Perabo, and Jeff Daniels (who also starred in Brick) also give solid performances in this intricately woven film.  Although there’s a ton of mystery and twists to be had with Looper, Johnson doesn’t leave any loose threads lying around and by the film’s climax, all your questions will hopefully be answered.

Looper is such a solid film that a Blu-ray purchase is highly recommended, as it comes with 22 deleted scenes and a featurette titled “The Science of Time Travel.”  The DVD version, which I checked out, has just five of the 22 deleted scenes, two featurettes, and the Looper animated trailer.  Here’s a little info on the DVD special features:

1.  Deleted Scenes: A) Shanghai: The first deleted sequence is an extended version of a flashback sequence set in Shanghai, where Joe spends his thirty years living off his nest egg and eventually turning back into a life of crime.  Although this scene is featured in the theatrical cut, there’s a few more moments devoted to older Joe’s (Willis) relationship with his Chinese wife (Summer Qing). During the optional commentary, Johnson added that Gordon-Levitt’s scenes were shot in Shanghai, and Willis’ sequences took place in New Orleans (doubling for Shanghai).

B) Diner scene: A pivotal confrontation between the two Joes is given more time with this extended scene.  Although it’s essentially exposition that doesn’t add too much to the story, older Joe’s explanation of time travel to his younger self by using two straws and a salt shaker is fun to watch.

C) Kid Blue: Noah Segan, who plays a fellow assassin in the film named Kid Blue, has his best scene of the movie cut out from the theatrical version.  The sequence, beautifully shot by Steve Yedlin, features a deadly confrontation between Kid Blue and one of his colleagues.

D) Garrett Dillahunt/Emily Blunt – There’s an extended cat and mouse game between Dillahunt (he plays a hired killer) and Blunt (she’s a woman who helps younger Joe on his quest) that’s not featured in the theatrical cut.  It’s a good scene between two very capable actors, and it actually adds a bit more needed depth to Dillahunt’s character.

E) Older Joe Meets Suzie – There’s an extended scene between Willis and Perabo (she plays a working girl/single mom) that, like the diner moment, is well written but was understandably shortened down.  Perabo, however, is particularly effective in this scene (her son is one of the three kids who might be “The Rainmaker”).

2.  Looper: The Future From The Beginning (7:51 minutes) – A standard featurette with cast and crew interviews (Gordon-Levitt, Willis, director Rian Johnson, Paul Dano, Perabo are in the segment.  Movie trivia taken from the featurette: Gordon-Levitt spent three hours in makeup each day to play Joe.

3.  Scoring Looper (16:17 minutes) – Composer Nathan Johnson gives viewers an in-depth look at how he scored the film, as he breaks down the featurette in three segments: field recordings, percussion, and melodic instruments. Johnson used sounds he recorded in New Orleans to create a “virtual orchestra” for the score.  At the end of each segment, Johnson gives a preview of a select music track from the film.

Other features include the Looper animated trailer (1:34 minutes) and audio commentary from Rian Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt.

In our interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he elaborated on the challenges of playing the younger version of Willis’ character.  To hear Joseph Gordon-Levitt, click on the media bar below:

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The video below is the animated trailer that’s featured on the DVD and Blu-ray versions:

Looper is now out on Blu-ray and DVD.

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Posted by Greg Srisavasdi (Twitter: @Gvasdi)