DVD Review: Looper

Looper DVD boxSTUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Rian Johnson | CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 12/31/2012 | PRICE: DVD $30.99, Blu-ray $35.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes,
SPECS: R | 119 min. | Science-fiction | 2.35:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 Dolby Digital audio | English, Spanish subtitles
RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

LooperScience-fiction movie Looper is like a big thick stew: It’s full of meaty plot lines and is even better in second helpings.

Writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick) has shown he’s a force to be reckoned with thanks to this film. He tells the story of a futuristic killer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Premium Rush), a “looper,” who’s hired to get rid of people who are sent back in time from 30 years in the future. But when his future self (Bruce Willis, The Expendables 2) is in the crosshairs, he’s forced to go on the run.

See, the future gangsters who pay Gordon-Levitt’s young Joe don’t like loose ends, so when Willis’ Old Joe gets away, both become prey. But Old Joe has a plan, a mission, to change the future that sent him back by killing a person called The Rainmaker who’s murdering all the loopers in the future. To try to get himself back in the gangsters’ good graces, young Joe plans to finish his own job and discovers something about himself along the way.

A time travel plot twister, the movie has a lot going on. As well as plenty of action, Looper has a soft underbelly that asks rather profound questions about cause and effect, nature or nurture. Here are two versions of the same man, but each has a slightly different past. Willis’ older Joe has seen more, lived more, experienced more and feels like he has more to lose. But Gordon-Levitt’s younger version has a less selfish outlook that allows him to see how his own actions affect others.

The film is ripe with this cause and effect examination, from the main plot to the disturbing but ingenious way escaped future victims are brought in and dispatched.

As I said, Looper is a thick movie, and in the first viewing, it can sometimes feel like you’re wading through all the sci-fi and plot details. But the second time you see it, you’ll notice more of the brilliance of Johnson’s story.

Which, we learn in the featurette “Looper: From the Beginning” on the DVD, originated in a short film Johnson and Gordon-Levitt did together years ago. Johnson had been hearing suggestions that he should expand it to a feature for years, and Looper is the final product.

Johnson, Gordon-Levitt and co-stars Emily Blunt (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) and Piper Perabo (TV’s Covert Affairs), as well as others, are interviewed for the featurette, which is one of the most enjoyable I’ve seen lately. The actors all show lots of admiration for Johnson and his script, and they actually seem sincere. Blunt and Gordon-Levitt are perhaps the most genuine, with Gordon-Levitt showing boyish enthusiasm when he recounts a funny anecdote about working with Willis.

The DVD also offers the multi-part featurette “Scoring Looper,” hosted by composer Nathan Johnson (The Brothers Bloom). The piece shows the composer’s interesting methods of developing music that was familiar and yet different for the world of Looper, and how he used the sounds of guns, fans and household items to achieve it. This featurette is a must for anyone interested in musical sounds, but will be enjoyed by all movie lovers.

Finally, the DVD has five deleted scenes, including some alternate edits, and a feature commentary with director Johnson, Gordon-Levitt and, a few minutes in, Blunt. They’re all comfortable together, but the focus is definitely on the movie and how they filmed it instead of reminiscing.

The Blu-ray has another featurette, on time travel, and 17 more deleted scenes.

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.