Fans of writer/director Rian Johnson previously saw him dabble in the mystery genre with 2005’s Brick, a hard-boiled high school noir in which murder was afoot and everyone was guilty of something. After dabbling in preexisting universes with key episodes of Breaking Bad and that one time he turned Star Wars fandom into one big West Side Story gang war, Johnson returns to creating his own characters with Knives Out, a stellar whodunit that flips genre expectations, venerates a few old tropes, and, best of all, lets Daniel Craig have a rollicking vacation away from those glum Bond films and their even glummer press junkets.
You’ve already seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, right? I don’t plan to delve into heavy spoilers, but don’t be surprised if I mention things not in the trailers. Obviously I won’t list the names of the nine characters who die, the two who turn to the dark side, and the one who debuted in The Star Wars Holiday Special that has now made that travesty officially New Canon.
But I kid! I kid because I’d been excited for this flick ever since they announced TLJ would be helmed by Rian Johnson, the director of Brick and Looper, two films that were very much keepers. Longtime MCC readers may recall I’m not a full-on hardcore unconditional Star Wars fan who super-loves anything automatically that has those two words stamped on it. And yet, ever since the not-bad relaunch of the franchise with The Force Awakens, I find myself looking forward to these new films with increasing curiosity as to where they’ll go, what they’ll change, and how many films it’ll take before we’ll see a new generation of young Star Wars fans who weren’t scarred firsthand by George Lucas’ prequels.
The short, spoiler-free version of my impression of Looper: the film is a knotty but ingenious cat-and-mouse thriller that moves from urban squalor to rural tranquility with an enviable dexterity while contemplating the effects of poor choices on our lives (our own as well as others’), the things we’ll sacrifice to stay true to our selfish nature, and what we’re willing to sacrifice if we think harder about what’s most important in the grand scheme. Other reviews have already noted the effectiveness of the makeup, the subtlety of the near-future visual designs, and the fun of watching Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing different versions of the same character. Consider those thoughts seconded here, since I can’t think of a good reason to retype them in my own redundant words.
However, I wouldn’t go so far as to grade it A+++++. I recognized more than a few moving parts from other films, albeit parts that are shuffled together skillfully, retooled for improved functionality, and kept as far removed from the trailers as possible.
Before proceeding, I brake here for COURTESY SPOILER ALERT for those who plan to see it but have been too busy or who avoid theaters. Now is your moment to escape for the sake of your future moviegoing experience, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.