Review: Swiss Army Man (2016)

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“If my best friend hides his farts from me then what else is he hiding from me, and why does that make me feel so alone?”
– Manny

SYNOPSIS: A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8I heard so much about this movie when it came out. Heck, everyone did. It was all over the internet. There was a lot of talk. I was interested in checking this out because, well, I quite enjoy Radcliffe. He’s really good. The trailers did not look like my cup of tea (fart jokes, etc. are just not me), so I sort of discarded it. The reviews came back with  mad love for it, which I did not expect. It seemed like the type of movie you either loved or hated. Now I just had to watch it, to see where I would fall on the spectrum. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it, totally unexpectedly.

It opened with a fart joke. Seriously. It did. I rolled my eyes. Goodness, how on Earth was I going to make it through this whole thing? My husband looked at me curiously – me, watching something like this? What’s happening? But then the movie starts building, and against my better judgment, I was roped in. There was so much going on. I thought Hank had lost his marbles. What was with Radcliffe? Good Lord, the corpse is mumbling!

Before I knew it, I was actually having quite a few good laughs, and I was genuinely being engaged by the story. Surprisingly, Swiss Army Man actually has heart at the core of the story, and it works. The movie is quirky and is accompanied by a great score and absolutely awesome performances from both Radcliffe and Dano (the movie was essentially carried by just the two of them). The two worked together and came across as the greatest friends. I was impressed. Who knew? I certainly didn’t expect it from this movie. It contains a lot of themes, and they are executed rather beautifully. The movie is also shot really well, and looks really good. The scenes flow together seamlessly, and the pacing works, too. Never bland, never boring.

There was plenty awkward humour, humour that I normally absolutely cannot stand, but for some absurd reason, it suited the film. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely more fart/penis jokes than absolutely necessary, but there is actually more to this than that, and something you need to overlook to get to the rest of it. Swiss Army Man is, without a doubt, a bizarre watching experience, but one I certainly enjoyed more than I expected. It had heart, it had humour, it had depth, it made you laugh and it made you sad. I think it balanced a lot of themes incredibly well. I don’t know, this one just worked, in all its weirdness, and I thought it well worth my time.

Review: Looper (2012)

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“I work as a specialized assassin, in an outfit called the Loopers. When my organization from the future wants someone to die, they zap them back to me and I eliminate the target from the future. The only rule is: never let your target escape… even if your target is you.”
– Joe

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in in the prime of his life and living it up. It is 2044 and his occupation is that of a looper for a Kansas City crime syndicate. He is basically a hitman that kills and disposes of the bodies he is sent by Abe (Jeff Daniels). A looper gets paid in silver bars strapped to the victim. Loopers can also retire, which means that a looper’s future self will be sent back thirty years as a target for themselves, but strapped with gold bars instead of silver bars. It is called “closing the loop”, and if a looper fails to do so, it is punishable by death.

Joe’s close friend Seth (Paul Dano) manages to screw up his target (being himself), thus not closing the loop. Seth is telekinetic, and terrified of what is to come. He confides in Joe that his future self (Frank Brennan) warned him of a terrible and mysterious person named the Rainmakes in the future, who has mysteriously overthrown the five major crime bosses alone and is ending all the loopers’ contracts in 2074. Joe hides Seth, and goes to see Abe. Kid Blue (Noah Segan) wants Seth, and bad. Joe plays innocent for a while, thinking about all his silver bars and the future he wishes for himself. Abe doesn’t have time, and drops the ultimatum: half the hidden silver or his friend. Selfishly, Joe sells out Seth, and deals with the guilt.

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“I’m gonna fix this! I’m gonna find him, and I’m gonna kill him!” – Joe

Joe’s next target arrives late, untied and exposed. He recognizes his older self (Bruce Willis). In shock, he fails to close the loop in time, and Old Joe escapes. Things are not working out for Young Joe, and he and Kid Blue have some massive fights. Young Joe blacks out. In an alternate timeline, Young Joe successfully closes his loop and moves to Shanghai, where his drug addiction does not wane. He excels at his job, yet later he meets a woman (Xu Qing) and they fall in love. Joe’s whole life is turned around, and she takes care of him, he lives a whole life. However, thirty years pass and Joe is taken to close the loop again. Unfortunately, his wife does not make it in the struggle. Joe overpowers his captors and goes back to 2044, unbound and uncovered, and we are back to where it all started.

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“My memory’s cloudy. It’s a cloud. Because my memories aren’t really memories. They’re just one possible eventuality now.” – Old Joe

Old Joe hides Young Joe and later explains to him that it is his mission to kill the Rainmaker as a child to change how things are in the future, making sure that he will not have to be looped back and his wife will be spared. Young Joe doesn’t seem to care, and unsuccessfully tries to close his loop. Old Joe has done some research into where this child will be, and is moving through three families he has marked off, hunting their kids. He is not sure which one is the future Rainmaker, but he is taking no chances. Young Joe follows a shred of the map he tore off from Old Joe and makes to go to the place. On the farm he tracks down, he meets Sara (Emily Blunt) and her young son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Young Joe needs to prove himself, but is only concerned about stopping his older self when he eventually turns up.

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“Ask yourself: who would I sacrifice for what’s mine?” – Abe

However, it soon becomes evident that Cid is the future Rainmaker that Old Joe is hunting, and Young Joe has taken rather a liking to the kid. Is this child truly the responsibility of crippling the future crime bosses, becoming one of the most terrifying people in the world, feared by all? Is he really the one that cost Old Joe so much pain and suffering? Will Old Joe find the relevant family, and how will he and Young Joe hash things out to make things right? Does Young Joe still have the opportunity to make things right with his bosses?

Looper scores an 8/10. Definitely not a bad watch. The movie is rather complex, but not so much that you don’t understand, though it is incredibly important to understand everything from the get-go, because everything is built on that. I adore Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and I thought he was good to watch (as always). They went to some extreme measures to change his appearance, and I personally thought that they did a good job to get him look closer to Bruce Willis, though it was terribly disconcerting. It threw me a little that he did not look so much like himself. Bruce Willis has typical action scenes in here, which is not a bad thing. He is an action star, after all. The story that was told in here was rather in depth, and quite a thing to follow, though not an impossibility. The cast was decent, the effects were fine and the story was fresh. It was innovative, and had me thinking all the way through, wondering what was coming, what was happening, what had happened as well as when the heck it happened. Definitely something new, and something that has not really been done quite like this. It is seldom that you come across something shiny, but this film has it all. They didn’t lose sight of the story or the characters, and found a way to work them all together seamlessly. Time travel is not always something that is executed very well, in my opinion, there is too much to go wrong. In this one, as complex as it was, they managed to keep it all rolling smoothly and without too many loose ends. I would recommend this to anyone who has not seen it, though I suggest you don’t put it on for light watching. Have your wits about you.