Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Birthday Double Feature Movie Review: Looper (2012) & Lawless (2012)

As mentioned yesterday, it was my 30th birthday and for an extra special treat we went to see two of the movies from 2012 that I actually wanted to see as a double feature. Hopes were high and by now some of you have already been made aware of my disappointment, but for those who aren't here's my brief reviews.

Looper by Rian Johnson
3.5 out of 5 stars

Blurb: In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented - but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a "looper" - a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good... until the day the mob decides to "close the loop," sending back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.

Thoughts: Unnecessary is the word that comes to mind the most when thinking about this film. So much of it feels stupid and lazy and that's without even considering the pathetic and generic tropey Emily Blunt.

But then when you consider this is probably Bruce Willis's best performance in at least ten years, JGL superb playing Bruce Willis (despite how creepy he looks), a scene with two of the finest young actors in Hollywood opposite each other (watching JGL and Paul Dano face off was easily my highlight,) Jeff Daniels who just gets better with age (if he doesn't win an Oscar before he retires it will be a crying shame and for a lack of decent scripts) AND a kid who makes Jodelle Ferland look normal, things kind of even out.

Emily Blunt needs to stop appearing in films. I desperately wanted somebody to shoot her in the face in one of the action scenes but SPOILER ALERT it doesn't happen. END SPOILER ALERT There are so many talented young actresses out there I'm sure so it is beyond me as to why this talentless woman still gets roles. It didn't help that her entire storyline seemed completely UNNECESSARY.

My man Simon had this to say: "Could have been two really good and different films. Instead it was a Frankenstein's monster that they forgot to fix legs on before animating," which seems quite perfect to me. That Total Film put their name to the "this decades The Matrix" quote says a lot about the kind of hyperbole expected of film magazines at the moment and I suggest everyone takes a deep breath before writing such untruthful nonsense in future.

I'm not saying this is a bad movie, it's just not as good as it thinks it is and the (surely) paid for reviews led us to believe. Rian Johnson has some great ideas, the sci-fi noir thriller angle he starts with would have been enough to make this a very good movie on its own for example and his imagining of a near future filled with near poverty and renewable energy sources retro fitted to current petrol burning cars was quite perfect but it loses its way in trying to be more complex than needed.

Lawless by John Hillcoat
3 out of 5 stars

Blurb: The mostly true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic gangster tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant’s family in his novel "The Wettest County In The World", the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation’s most notorious crime wave.

Thoughts: With the team of Cave and Hillcoat it is inevitable that comparisons are made to The Proposition, their earlier Australian "western" which featured fantastic performances and beautiful direction, this is clearly detrimental to your enjoyment as Lawless fails to live up to their previous high standard despite some great performances.

Nick Cave writes by the numbers stories, sure he embellishes a little and adds a little poetry but in this case it's still predictable and filled with cliche. I think that despite it being his adaptation he shouldn't take all of the blame for the plot failures, the historical fiction novel it is adapted from was written by somebody who used his own family history and placed it in the patented prohibition gangster plot generator to give us many obvious plot points and a quite possibly unrealistically heroic portrait of the Bondurant Brothers.

John Hillcoat directs just fine and dandy, he makes his movies look beautiful with the help of his more than capable DoP but still when push comes to shove the film loses appeal because it's all so predictable from the opening scene.

Gary Oldman could have used a couple of minutes/hours more screen time and Tom Hardy was his usual high quality but the acting highlight naturally came from Guy "Shotgun Ed" Pearce. It's Pearce vs McConnaughey for actor of the year and I think Bongos will win for Killer Joe alone but Pearce really does push him close thanks to his performance as the effeminate yet psychotic US Marshall (or whatever he is) Charlie Rakes.

I've already been told I have issues from crazed Looper fans but feel free to jump on the bandwagon criticising me for my own personal opinions and tastes on movies in the comments below.


  1. Great reviews! I was disappointed with both of these, but I do want to see them again.

    I couldn't figure out what was so great about Blunt's performance either. While I loved her performances in The Adjustment Bureau and Your Sister's Sister, I think she was miscast here. Of course, I also didn't see the point of her storyline.

    Pearce was wonderful in Lawless. Definitely needed more of him and Oldman.

  2. I really want to see Adjustment Bureau agin actually. It was another that wasnt as good as i had hoped but was better than i expected.