Joseph Gordon-Levitt Special: Premium Rush & Looper Reviews

It’s been quite a year for 31-year-old young thespian Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s got four movies opening this year alone, including one mega-blogbuster The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a testament to his versatility that he’s played a supporting role in two (TDKR and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, out later this November), and a starring role in two action thrillers released within a month of each other. Here are the reviews of those two, starting with the review from FC contributor Cecilia Rusli:

Premium Rush (2012)

I really think that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is currently Hollywood’s shining star in skinny-guy category. He has pretty much impressed me on 500 Days of Summer, Inception, and The Dark Knight Rises which actually affected my curiosity on Premium Rush and Looper where I end up with watching both of them this week.

Premium Rush tells the life of Wilee as a bike messenger who received a package which made he chased by a dirty cop. The main idea of the whole movie is about chasing and running. With a bike.

The movie definitely would appeal to fans of single-speed bikes (fixies) and if you’re one of those people, I’d think you won’t be disappointed in this one. Levitt succeed in showing the best he’s got as a cyclist, riding in a crowded traffic in style. There are plenty of edge-of-your-seats moments here which made me think that this is the bike-version of Fast and Furious. It has a story, but people should not expect much from it. The action parts on the traffic is very entertaining, especially those moments when a biker comes really close to having a deadly accident. However, there was one scene that’s quite disappointing as it appears as if there was going to be a bike-outbreak, where a bunch of bikes suddenly came out of a garage to deceive their enemy, but I don’t think that scene wasn’t handled very well.

As Bobby Monday, Michael Shannon plays his role pretty well. He managed to show his persistence as a tough villain who never stop his fight. Big guy as a dirty cop versus the skinny bike messenger is quite entertaining to watch.

One fun thing about Premium Rush is the graphic design. I really love how Wilee’s GPS shown on the screen, indicating which one is the best way to reach a certain place. The director, David Koepp, also shows some possibilities might happened in route that Wilee’s take. It feels a bit like playing a video game.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a movie which will pump your adrenaline with fun visuals with not much concerns about the story, Premium Rush will suit you just fine. A breath of fresh air for those who are bored watching car chase scenes.

P.S: Stay on seat after the movie ends for some additional footage in the end credits

– Review by Cecilia R.


3 out of 5 reels

Looper (2012)

Time travel sci-fi movies are inherently intriguing to me, so when I first saw the trailer with THIS cast, I knew I wanted to see it. The hype surrounding this film is quite strong, at least if I’m using Twitter as a barometer, but I’m glad to report that I’m not disappointed.

As in the trailer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a specialized assassin, in an outfit called the Loopers. He lives in the year 2042 but the mob he works for lives 30 years ahead where time travel would’ve been invented. When his employer from the future wants to get rid of someone, they zap that person back 30 years where someone like Joe would be waiting with a big gun in hand, ready to blow them up to oblivion. The only rule is: never let your target escape… even if your target is you. The job seems easy enough, I mean, the targets are blindfolded, so it’s not like they could really escape. That is, until one did, and that target happens to be his older self, in the form of Bruce Willis.

Now, before the action begins in full throttle, Director Rian Johnson sets up the story by introducing the Looper doing their jobs and how these junkies hit-men spend their lives in a dystopian future (is there any other kind in the movies??). “Loopers are well paid, they lead a good life…” Joe said in his narration, but what he means by ‘good’ doesn’t mean a happy one and it’s clear that Joe is disillusioned with his life.

Let me just say the less you know about the plot the better as I went in pretty much ‘blind,’ other than seeing the trailer weeks ago, and it’s fun to see the story unravel in ways I didn’t really expect. There’s really a lot to chew on here, as do most time-travel movies, and I have to admit it was a bit mind-boggling to digest it all as I’m watching it, but now that I’ve processed the movie more, Johnson actually told the story well enough without an overly drawn-out exposition.

The strengths are in the performances, especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who seems to only get better and better as he grows to be a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. Seems like every time I see him, even in minor roles like in Inception or The Dark Knight Rises, he never fails to impress. I’ve got to admit though, his prosthetic make-up to make him look like Bruce Willis is distracting at times, but once I get into the story, I got used to it. In fact, in some scenes Gordon-Levitt’s mannerism and expressions really do remind me of Willis!

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Bruce. He’s a bad ass guy with a heart and I feel that he sold me on the emotional moments as well as on the action front, in which he channels his iconic John McClane in the Die Hard franchise. In fact, I kept waiting for him to yell ‘Yiippiikayee’ during some of the shootout scenes!

I’m also impressed with Emily Blunt and child actor Pierce Gagnon who plays her little boy. Both played two key roles that serve as the emotional center of the story. Their paths crossed with both the younger and older Joe in a way that not only affect their own lives but the lives of Joe’s fellow Loopers. Their scenes with Gordon-Levitt are well-played, though it could perhaps be tightened a bit as it does feel dragging at times. Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano also lend memorable supporting performances, Daniels is sort of a comic relief as Joe’s manager who happens to be sent by the mob from the future.

It’s refreshing to see a movie based on an original script, not an adaptation nor a remake. Despite all the time travel elements, the film also doesn’t feel too science-fiction-y. I’m also glad Johnson doesn’t pile on one action set pieces after another, instead there are a lot of quiet moments to establish character development that help you get immersed in Joe’s journey.

Final Thoughts: Looper is a thrill ride that has a nice blend of thrilling action and matters of the heart. There are brutal action and some totally-unnecessary nudity here, but fortunately not so much so that derails my overall appreciation for it. At the core of this movie lies a heartfelt love story between a man and a woman, and also between a mother and his son. I like what Ryan @ The Matinee said in his review about how our decisions have a ripple effect that might impact people in ways we don’t intend or understand. It reminds me a bit of another time-travel movie Frequency which also deals with this theme, but this one is much less melodramatic.

I haven’t seen Brick yet, but I might give that a shot to see Johnson + Gordon-Levitt’s previous collaboration. I have an inkling this won’t be the last movie of the pair and that’d be a welcome project in my book!

4.5 out of 5 reels

Thoughts on Premium Rush and/or Looper? Let us know in the comments!

42 thoughts on “Joseph Gordon-Levitt Special: Premium Rush & Looper Reviews

  1. “It’s refreshing to see a movie based on an original script, not an adaptation nor a remake.” – AMEN! The originality of Looper combined with Johnson’s overall presentation of his story really blew me away. I had a couple of small gripes about the first half of the film but other than that, this was LOADS of fun.

    Great review!

    1. Thanks Keith! Glad to hear we both like this one. It’s quite a feat to create a time travel movie that at least ‘feels’ original, and the whole 2 actors playing 1 character thing is always interesting. Both JGL and Willis did a great job, quite inspired casting.

  2. JGL is one to watch. Big time. Remember him from 3rd Rock from the Sun? Yeah, I didn’t think he had much more in him than that! Thought he was adorable in 10 Things I hate About You. Then ever since Brick, I’ve been waiting to see what he did next. He has blown me away!

    I might be a little bit of a fangirl whenever anyone mentions JGL!

    And I second that amen to your saying that we’ve finally got an original film, no adaptation or remake. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I saw a purely original film! It’s crazy!

    1. Oh right, he was adorable in ’10 Things’ though I LOVE Ledger in it. I haven’t seen Brick yet but now I’m real curious! I’m thrilled that he’s quite famous now as he’s massively talented!

      Yeah, nice to see originality isn’t dead (yet) in Hollywood!

    1. Oh Dezzy, JGL has come a looong way since Third Rock 🙂 Btw, Millie Blunt is wonderful in this film, but then again I’ve always liked her.

    1. Ahah, I think there are a ton of skinny guys who made it in Hollywood, Julian. What’s worrisome is how most actresses seem to only get more jobs if they have no meat on their bones!

  3. Alongside Harry (French Stewart), he was my favourite character in 3rd Rock From The Sun. I’d say ever since (500) Days Of Summer, he’s in everything. The past couple years seems like there a movie with him in it every 3 months or so. Good ones too!

    Extremely loved Looper. I’m with you, I’ll be watching Brick.

  4. Ted S.

    I don’t have any interest in seeing Premium Rush, kind of a silly concept for a film. But I’m excited to see Looper, hopefully I get to see it this weekend.

    JGL is being groom to be the next big star, so I think he and Di Caprio will be the two big named stars studio will lean on for their tent pole projects in next 10 years or so. I won’t be surprise at all if JGL gets the lead role in Nolan’s new film, whichever that will be.

    1. Yeah, I don’t think Premium Rush is for me either. I actually like JGL more than DiCaprio as he’s not pretentious or has that movie star aura about him, plus he seems like a creative guy who cares more about the work than the fame.

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah I think he’s a pretty down to earth type of person but I don’t think Leo’s pretentious either and I think Leo’s really care about his craft too. He’s doing what Cruise have done his whole career, didn’t star in too many films meant for teenage girls and align himself with big named directors. I can see JGL doing the same thing and so far he seems to get along with Johnson and Nolan.

        1. I suppose given his celebrity, Leo’s still pretty grounded. You’re right he didn’t seem to take advantage of his Titanic fame like many actors would. JGL still has that ‘indie actor’ aura though, that’s what I like about him. I don’t think the same could be said about Leo, though that’s not necessarily his fault I guess. Btw, I wouldn’t mind seeing JGL in Nolan’s next movie, whatever that is 🙂

  5. ceciliarusli

    Yes i do feel uncomfortable with JGL’s eyebrow on the movie but the whole story in Looper is such a fun sci-fi ride.

    Emily Blunt is also getting better in sci-fi genres looking at the past The Adjustment Bureau and the upcoming All You Need Is Kill. The Adjustment Bureau also plays on future-things, isn’t it?

    Anyway, thanks a lot for posting my Premium Rush review Ruth!

    1. Ahah yeah, his eyebrows are crazy! I don’t know why they did that, I mean Bruce Willis didn’t have those when he was younger!

      I think sci-fi genre is always gonna be popular so it’s good that Emily’s got her feet in that genre. I’m curious about All You Need Is Kill.

      Thank YOU for your review!

  6. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    Joseph Gordon~Levitt has been one to watch since Third Rock. Slowly accruing small but memorable roles in ‘Manic’, ‘Mysterious Skin’, ‘Havoc’ and ‘Brick’. Before finding his niche in Inception. It’s been fun watching his roles and range expand with time.

    Definitely one to watch. With all the potential of being his generation’s more polished and literate Alan Ladd or Bogart!

    1. Hello Jack! The talented ones do start young don’t they? I missed some of his earlier movies that you mentioned, I should give those a watch, esp. Bric. He definitely is one of the brightest young stars we have today.

  7. Great reviews here. I enjoyed Looper much more than Premium Rush, but not as much as you did, Ruth. Growing up, I always associated JGL with Angels in the Outfield (a film I watched many times), so I’m happy that his star is beginning to shine. 🙂

    1. Thanks Josh! Oh my, Angels in the Outfield, I remember that one. JGL was such a cute little boy. He’s definitely grown to be a dashing young man now.

  8. Thank you for the review 🙂
    I am going to wait premium rush on TV…but Looper has been on my mind since I saw the poster on 21 cuineplex. I really like Bruce Willis but sometimes he played bad movies…so I am waiting for this review to show up. 4,5 stars is an amazing rating.

    Will wait for it to step down from Coming Soon poster area 😉

    1. Hi Nov! Yeah, PR sounds like it’s only good enough to rent or see on TV. Bruce Willis is fun to watch even in a bad movie, ahah. But no, Looper is a very good movie and you’ll see Willis doing what he does best. Hope it gets released soon in Jkt!

  9. Ceciliarusli

    Hi Nov! I watched Looper at 21cineplex Jakarta. But it’s still in midnight show though. Maybe will be in regular shows in 1 or 2 weeks ahead.

    How come i haven’t watched Angels in the Outfield. Is it that good?

    1. Angels in the Outfield is a baseball drama, I think it was in the early 90s? JGL was still very young in it, but he’s memorable even then.

  10. Great post! JGL is such a likable guy, he really has this nice quality to him that makes his characters so easy to relate to and care for. I haven’t seen any of those two movies yet, but I’ll definetly check them out – I’m curious to see Shannon and Blunt’s new performances.

    As for Looper and the make up I don’t really get why it was necessary. I mean if they just told me that in the movie JGL plays younger Willis I’d buy that, that whole make up thing just seems like “Look, look what we can do!” thing to me.

    1. Yeah, being talented and likable rarely go hand in hand in actors, but it’s nice when it happens.

      They seem to have overdone the makeup on JGL, it’s almost comical! Especially those eyebrows, ahah. Thankfully, once I got into the story, it didn’t bother me as much.

    1. I saw that we both rate Looper the same w/ 4.5. I respect JGL more and more, he’s really coming into his own and he’s only gonna get better!

  11. I really want to see both of these, but it looks like I missed out on catching Premium Rush in the theater. Only glossed over the reviews since I haven’t seen them yet, but I am excited to see such a high score for Looper! Can’t wait to see it.

  12. I can’t wait to watch Looper this coming week. Your review is along the same lines as others I’ve read, highlighting the originality, the action and the twists of the story. As for Premium Rush, I’ll just wait until it comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD. Action flicks without a story to back them up usually don’t do much for me, unless the action is absolutely stupendous like in The Raid: Redemption.

    1. Did you get to watch Looper yet Niels? Hope you enjoy that one. I’m not a big fan of full-throttle action just for the sake of it, so I’m glad Looper has an intriguing message behind it.

  13. I want to see both of these films and JGL is rising fast indeed. Who’d have thought that wee guy from Third Rock From The Sun would now be commanding our screens? I like him though. He’s a great actor and Brick is great film.

    1. I really should check out Brick. JGL is really quite talented even as a wee boy in Angels in the Outfield, so it’s nice to see his career is on fire now.

  14. Pingback: LAMBScores: A Time Traveling Glee Club Visits Eastern Europe | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

  15. Pingback: 10 Actresses I would watch in just about anything |

  16. Pingback: 2014 Recap: 10 Favorite Female Performances of the Year |

  17. Pingback: Trailers Spotlight: ‘Knives Out’ and HULU’s ‘Four Weddings & A Funeral’ miniseries – FlixChatter Film Blog

Join the conversation by leaving a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s