Bruce Willis

commentary-looper

Rian Johnson‘s Looper is a rare film for many reasons. The only thing rarer than Hollywood committing to a mid-budget sci-fi film is one featuring an original idea not based on an existing property. Even better though, the film is unafraid to go to some very dark places with some wholly unexpected events, and the result is a rewarding experience for film goers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as young and old versions of the same character who come face to face in a fight for their separate but clearly connected lives. It’s smart, exciting and challenging in the way no big budget blockbuster could ever hope to be. Three of its key players sat down to record a commentary track for next week’s Blu-ray/DVD release, and we gave it a listen. Come along won’t you, and read what we heard…

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A Good Day to Die Hard Poster

Look at those McClane men, sporting matching facial abrasions and pissed off grins! Just adorable. We’re mere months away from the fifth installment of the Die Hard franchise, still amusingly titled A Good Day to Die Hard, so it’s about time we get a new poster for the Bruce Willis- and Jai Courtney-starring film, though it’s somewhat surprising just how much this new poster reminds us of Backdraft. What exactly are those flames doing there? What precisely is on fire? Should we be concerned about John McClane (Willis) and his estranged son Jack (Courtney)? Probably. This new film moves the action to Moscow (sure) and pits the McClane dudes against underground baddies bent on controlling nuclear weapons. For added super-sized fun to that already out-sized adventure, Fox and IMAX  have also announced today that A Good Day to Die Hard will be getting an IMAX release, making it the first Die Hard film to be re-mastered for the format. It’s big. And that’s not even it for today’s Die Hard news, as Fox has also crafted a new featurette about Courtney, so if you’re still wondering just who the heck that guy is, check it out after the break.

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation

When the first trailer for G.I. Joe: Retaliation hit about a year ago, expectations for the sequel were pretty low. That was due to the first film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of  COBRA, pretty much sucking. But a funny thing happened after everyone saw that trailer for Retaliation : suddenly people were talking about G.I. Joe again. This one didn’t look like a random, terrible action movie that just happened to be called G.I. Joe, it actually looked like an adaptation of the beloved property. That’s a real Cobra Commander mask! And the whole thing looked pretty epic and exciting, too. Mountain-climbing ninja action! There are conflicting reports as to why exactly the film’s release date was pushed back from last summer to this upcoming March 29, 2013. Some say they wanted to add a 3D element to the film, some say that they wanted to add more scenes featuring Channing Tatum – seeing as he became a bigger star almost immediately after this movie stopped filming. Whatever the case may be, Retaliation got pushed back, it is now going to be released as a 3D movie, and this new trailer certainly features more Channing Tatum than the first one (which seemed to be trying to wash him right out of the franchise). Check it out after the break!

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Editor’s note: Lay The Favorite hits limited release this Friday, though it doesn’t seem like a solid bet for your movie-going dollar. Find out why with the following Sundance review, originally published on January 23, 2012. There’s one thing that becomes quite clear, quite quickly as Stephen Frears‘s Lay The Favorite begins: not everyone should do voiceover work. Rebecca Hall (who stars as Beth Raymer) sadly falls squarely into that category and her baby voice stays with her throughout the entire film, grating on already-frayed nerves. Lay The Favorite tells Beth’s baby-voiced story as she tries to figure out her purpose in life at a job that will be stimulating and make her good money (don’t we all, Beth). The best place to pursue such a dream? Las Vegas, of course! Beth packs up her life (and dog Otis) and heads west with stars in her eyes. Ready and willing to do anything, Beth quickly makes friends with Holly (Laura Prepon) who turns her on to a job with Dink Heimowtiz (Bruce Willis) who runs a legal (at least in Vegas) gambling company (Dink Inc., of course) that bets on anything and everything, but mainly sporting events. Dink’s world is filled with exactly the type of excitement and stimulation Beth was hoping for and despite her baby talk, daddy issues (no matter what she says) and constant hair chewing, Dink takes a shine to her and agrees to bring her on.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge, so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis In Robert Rodriguez’s instant zombie classic, a small Texas town becomes ground zero for a gruesome epidemic when the Army’s “Project Terror” – a biochemical doomsday weapon – mutates a platoon of soldiers (and eventually most of the townspeople) into raving, pustulent cannibals. Leading the charge against the zombies are a hard-assed sheriff (Michael Biehn), a lone wolf with a checkered past (Freddy Rodriguez (no relation to Robert)) and Cherry Darling – a one-legged go-go dancer (Rose McGowan). Of course, she’s not one-legged at the start of the film. That would make no sense. How she loses the leg and winds up with a machine gun prosthetic is a tale for the annals of horror legend.

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A Good Day to Die Hard Teaser

Though the atrocities committed by Len Wiseman’s installment in the Die Hard franchise, Live Free or Die Hard, were myriad, perhaps none was more grievous than its pussification of John McClane’s catch phrase, “Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker,” to the coy and no less offensive, “Yippee ki-yay, *gunshot noise*,” so that what should have been a hard R-rated action movie could get a PG-13 rating and play to an audience of teenyboppers who probably don’t even know what a Die Hard is. The first trailer for this fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise, director John Moore’s A Good Day to Die Hard, didn’t give us any indication as to whether or not the real version of McClane’s catch phrase would be reinstated in this film—instead it was just an adrenaline pumping mishmash of guns shooting, things exploding, and women undressing; which is fine and all, but doesn’t give us much to go by when judging how this film is going to differ from its predecessors. This international trailer for the film, along with a poster that was debuted by Entertainment Weekly, give us a little bit more of an idea of what to expect, however, and not all of it is good. This trailer gives us a little bit more plot (it becomes clear that McClane has traveled to Moscow to get his son out of some kind of trouble), it gives us a little bit more McClane dialogue (it turns out he’s still gruff and put upon), and it even […]

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A Good Day to Die Hard Teaser

I don’t think anyone was chomping at the bit for a fifth Die Hard movie. As serviceable as Live Free or Die Hard was, were hordes of Die Hard diehards jacked up about another tame PG-13 sequel? Their average joe hero had just been turned into another superhero, completely forgetting the main appeal of the character. Unfortunately, the first teaser trailer for the fifth installment, A Good Day to Die Hard, doesn’t sell the sequel as a return to the series’ roots. Instead the movie once again features 007, but he just so happens to be from New Jersey. Take a glimpse at John McClane blowing up Russia:

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Looper. Several hours after seeing Rian Johnson’s Looper, I find the film still rattling in my head. Not because certain moments have resonated with me, nor because the möbius strip sci-fi structure has motivated any existential introspection. Instead, I felt surprisingly conflicted by Looper, perhaps more so than any other film this year. Looper is a film that consists of so many great parts, miles above what most studio genre fare has released this year, yet somehow even the success of these parts didn’t seem to cohere into a resonant whole on the drive home. What stands out the most about Looper is the emotional and thematic import of the film’s time travel plot device. In situating a young man confronting his aged (and changed) self, a middle-aged man attempting to change course in his life through any means possible, and several evident cycles of fate-determining actions shared between characters, Looper connects its investigation of predestination v. free will to a rumination on how our choices directly effect the lives of others in lasting ways. The logic of Looper lays out a vision of life that includes many potential options from which we choose or have chosen for us. Here there is no such thing as fate, only opened and closed opportunities, the implications of which we can’s possibly comprehend in the present moment.

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Now that Looper is a decent hit — especially in China — we can anticipate that people will be discussing the movie around the web, the water cooler and wherever else we talk about movies these days. Much of the conversation will be devoted to the usual with the time travel subgenre: paradoxes, the workings of the time machine, plot holes, why wasn’t Hitler killed, etc. But with this particular story there’s one major point of discussion I’m interested in, and of course it involves spoilers. So, if you’ve seen the movie or are just one of those who don’t care about stuff being ruined, join me after the break as I ask…

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Fantastic Fest: Looper

Joe (the conveniently similarly named Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper, and no, sadly, that has nothing whatsoever to do with stunt piloting. What his profession actually entails is the assassination of targets sent back through time by an organized crime syndicate; the only entity to have access to the highly illegal, but totally existing time travel technology. These assassins will inevitably be one day sent the future versions of themselves in a retirement process known as “closing the loop.” Apparently the gold watch and the store-bought sheet cake was simply far too conventional. When Joe is put in a position to close his loop, he commits the fatal sin of hesitation; setting in motion a fight for his own survival as he seeks to kill himself. That sentence could only ever work in relation to Looper.

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Bruce Willis as John McClane takes aim in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD.

In Rian Johnson‘s Looper, our old pal Bruce Willis plays a man who is sent back in time to be shot by himself. Twisty? Yes, but it all comes through in the wash judging by the high amount of high praise the sci-fi flick is getting. In honor of the plot concept, we’ve asked our old pal ChugsTheMonkey to mash-up an epic video of Bruce Willis battling against Bruce Willis. Unsurprisingly, he enlisted a fictional fighter jet, a high speed chase and a lot of ammunition to take on the task. Who do you think will win?

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Nathan Johnson

Out today, Looper tells the story of mafia hit-man Joe (Joesph Gordon-Levitt) who spends his days offing victims, but there’s a twist here: these victims are sent to him from the future. And when he comes face-to-face with his future self (Bruce Willis), things really start to unravel. Part sci-fi, part action, part drama, Looper flows between these different genres just as the story flows between different time periods and it is Nathan Johnson’s score that helps guide us from one place to the next. I spoke with Johnson about creating his completely original score, full of found sounds he then manipulated into actual instrumentation – no easy feat! But one that is fully achieved and gives this original story an equally original sound and feel, creating a new world that does not completely take us away from where we are now, but hints at where we may be going.

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Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson is a director you’re going to want to get to know, if you don’t already. He’s one of the more innovative filmmakers around and his previous films, Brick and Brothers Bloom have been triumphs of independent cinema. If nothing else, Brick showed us that there is still life remaining in the otherwise tired convention of film noir and that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was ready to be a leading man in something other than fluff comedy. Johnson’s latest film, Looper, re-teams him with JGL as well as giving him the chance to work with Bruce Willis on what is essentially the biggest movie of his burgeoning career. After seeing Looper at Fantastic Fest, we had a blunderbuss full of questions to fire at Johnson. We were so happy he was able to make time for us.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Unlike most films, Looper starts off with only ambient noise – the sound of the wind and the rustling of leaves fill the space, but as we look upon a stone faced man wielding a gun these every day sounds we rarely notice take on a new feeling and become almost as foreboding as the use of sorrowful strings or rumbling percussion. A single shot breaks this near silence and with it, Nathan Johnson’s futuristic and industrial score comes in. Johnson has been no stranger to giving audiences peeks at his process for creating Looper’s score and there is little question why – it’s pretty damn cool. Rather than simply turning to a full-bodied orchestra to expand on the various characters’ emotions and set the frenetic pace of the film, Johnson took found sounds (a car door slamming shut, an industrial fan, the vibration of a door stopper) and used these sounds as his instruments while still infusing and pairing them with more standard instrumentation, creating a score that is both familiar and inventive. He even went so far as to build new instruments by combining normal instruments (a marxophone) with unique sounding elements (an appropriately selected gat gun) making the score feel off-putting, but still grounded in the fabric of the narrative.

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Looper

Rian Johnson‘s upcoming Looper is clearly filled with thought-provoking elements, but certainly one of its more interesting aspects has to be the way in which Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are playing the same character, but at different ages. Much ado has been made about the effects work used to make Gordon-Levitt more lantern-jawed and Willis-looking, but not a whole lot has yet been said about how Gordon-Levitt approached his performance. How exactly does one go about trying to play a younger version of a star whose screen presence is as well-defined as Bruce Willis’? i09 caught up with the actor and his director and got some answers on this subject, as well as a few others. When talking about his preparation for the role, Gordon-Levitt said, “I studied him [Willis], and watched his movies, and ripped the audio off of his movies, so I could listen to them on repeat. He even recorded some of my voice-over monologues [from Looper] and sent me that recording, so I could hear what it would sound like in his voice.” That sounds like a good way of studying Willis’ cadence and perfecting the way that he talks, but does that mean Gordon-Levitt’s performance is going to simply be a glorified impersonation?

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Looper

With his third feature film Looper, writer/director Rian Johnson marks the official return of the smart science-fiction film that works to stimulate audiences while making them think. Such a double-layer genre of “style equals substance” sci-fi has been elusive but more than often successful in Hollywood as studios took a leap of faith on projects like Blade Runner, The Matrix, Dark City, Minority Report, and most recently Inception. I can only assume that the film industry insiders who attended the premiere of Looper at the Toronto International Film Festival also leaned towards that same exercise and brought up comparisons of years past to properly qualify their impressions of the film. In doing so, none could be more accurate than Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, the 1995 mind-bending remake of the French cinema classic La Jetée (which also featured Bruce Willis…). Johnson may have been inspired by the closing scene of Gilliam’s opus, where an innocent child watches an older man fall on his knees after being shot by airport security. Other worthy comparisons include some of Brian De Palma’s earlier works (especially The Fury) and the Back to the Future trilogy. Worry not, there is no correlation in tone between Doc Brown’s DeLorean adventures and the central plot elements of Looper. But like Robert Zemeckis, Johnson approaches time travel from the viewpoint of subjective consequence, which remains the most fascinating aspect of this very popular concept. Similarly to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance where Marty’s parents must fall in love, […]

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Over Under - Large

Walter Hill’s pairing of Nick Nolte’s grizzled growl and Eddie Murphy’s ludicrous laugh, 48 Hrs., is often thought of as being the genesis of the buddy cop genre, and it’s still widely considered to be one of the best films to come from the category as well. What we’ve come to expect from these movies, what has come to feel old hat, was fresh and inventive back when Hill and the gang were putting this project together, and the formula they used was so successful that we can now expect to get at least a couple high profile buddy cop movies released every year. That gives 48 Hrs. a certain amount of clout. And heck, Hill’s name alone provides it with an amazing pedigree. He was a genre master in the 80s, and these days he gets looked back on as being some sort of film geek deity. It’s no wonder 48 Hrs. still gets shown so much respect. One buddy cop movie that doesn’t often get spoken of with reverence, however, is Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout. While trying to process the recent passing of the famed director, it feels nice to look back on this – not one of his better-loved works – give it a reevaluation, and decide whether or not it’s something the film geek community has given enough appreciation to. This wasn’t a well-reviewed film, it wasn’t one of the biggest money-makers of its year, and people don’t look back on it as being […]

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et tu The Expendables?

It almost hurts to think about The Expendables. It was simply heartbreaking to see such a great concept squandered, buried in a mire of terrible effects, ridiculous over-exposited story and worst of all, poorly shot and cut action sequences. How could they have brought together some of the greatest living action stars for a modern action film, a seemingly simple endeavor, and still managed to screw up? So it was with “fool me once” eyes that we as action movie lovers gobbled up news stories on the inevitable sequel. Expanded parts for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis? Jean Claude Van Damme?! Chuck Norris!?! It wasn’t long before the excitement grew so big that it clouded our collective memory of the disappointment of the first film. With everyone important back, some great new faces and an R-rating secured, we allowed ourselves to hope that maybe they finally got it right. And while The Expendables 2 does deliver more of what we always wanted from these films, it’s still not quite the home run we wanted.

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Over Under - Large

If one were to conduct a scientific study meant to determine what the most successful action movie of the 90s was, chances are pretty dang good that Speed would be near the top of the candidates for consideration. A success both financially and critically, this high-octane tale of a bomb on a perpetually moving bus solidified Keanu Reeves as one of Hollywood’s go-to leading men, launched the gigantic career of Sandra Bullock, and even gave its director, Jan de Bont, a success to add to his resume. All of that should be enough to solidify Speed’s place as one of the most important 90s action movies already, and we haven’t even factored in how it also managed to introduce the phrase, “Pop quiz, hotshot,” into the cultural lexicon. So, pop quiz, hotshot: Die Hard was the greatest action movie ever made, but its sequel, Die Hard 2, was a derivative bore churned out by one of the most prolific manufacturers of schlock of the last few decades, Renny Harlin. What do you do? You get the director of the original, the inimitable John McTiernan, to come back for the third film, Die Hard With a Vengeance. DHWAV, from what I can tell, isn’t hated. It’s widely considered to be the second-best entry in the Die Hard franchise, it certainly made its makers some money, and it doesn’t get derided as the death of the franchise like the belated fourth sequel, Live Free or Die Hard, does. But it doesn’t get […]

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The first look we got at Rian Johnson’s upcoming time travel action yarn, Looper, did a solid job of setting up the story and teasing the action. A curiously lantern-jawed Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing our hero (or, at least, the closest thing we get to one), a hitman for the mob who gets paid handsomely to wait in a field that exists many years in the past, shoot the people the wise guys send back in time as soon as they wink into existence, and then dispose of the body where no future authorities can find them. The wrinkle comes when his latest clean-up job gets sent back in time and a quick locking of the eyes reveals that he’s an equally lantern-jawed version of himself from the future (Bruce Willis). What to do? The new international trailer for the film gives us a bit more of an idea of what is going to be done. Future Gordon-Levitt has come to the past with a plan. And, as you might expect out of a hitman, his plan involves killing someone. Will he be able to set everything right and fix his future, or will his past self – who’s going to be in deep trouble if he doesn’t take his future self out – stop him before he can put his plan in motion? Lots of interesting questions about destiny and how much we can control our future seem to get asked. But, more importantly, everyone involved is shooting guns […]

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published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+

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