Release Date: September 28, 2012
Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Action, Drama
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer(s): Rian Johnson
Running Time: 118 minutes
Synopsis: The year is 2044, and Joe Simmons works as a “looper”—a hitman for a criminal syndicate that operates 30 years in the future, where time travel has finally been invented, who’s targets are sent back in time to be assassinated and disposed of in the past. One day, Joe’s target turns out to be the future version of himself; he hesitates and his older self escapes. Now Joe must track down “Old Joe” unless he wants to suffer a fate worse than death, but “Old Joe” has a mission of his own…
“Let me get this straight… I’m going to record an R&B album under the name ‘Bruno’?”
I love time travel—the Back to the Future series are among some of my favorite films. In most time travel films, the process of crossing time and space is a major focus of the film. Not in Looper, time travel is simply a plot device for the sole purpose of setting the story up. This is a character-driven tale, not one that relies on everyone’s favorite sci-fi invention. Rian Johnson is good at the whole “character development” thing too; his first film, Brick, is not only one of my favorite films but also one of the most well-written I’ve seen. You can now add Looper to those lists as well.
The plot of Looper is a very well-thought out and well-planned time travel tale, complex but simple enough that most viewers will be able to grasp it’s concepts. Think more along the lines of 12 Monkeys than Primer, in terms of time-jumping and plot depth complexity. This is more about the man than the conventions—a man who follows the rules and does his job well, being charged with the difficult task of killing his older self, thus knowing how long he has left to live. This procedure is referred to as “closing the loop”, and every looper must do it to end their contract and enjoy the next 30 years of their life, work-free. Things go awry for the main character, Joe, as his older self escapes and attempts to change the future. I don’t want to get into story specifics because things will cross into spoiler territory, but it’s an incredible ride. Time travel isn’t the only sci-fi standard in this film, however: 10% of the population in 2044 have developed the ability to use telekinesis. The existence of TKs(what the film dubs those with the ability) is just as understated as the process of time travel but still just as important too.
“Oh shit… did I just walk into ‘The Matrix’?”
Johnson’s writing is as brilliant as ever here. He thought of absolutely everything that he deemed important—while you might not get an explanation as to how traveling through time works, you will get plenty of clues in the present that hint to events in the future. Looper is a bit more action-heavy than his previous films, and Johnson does a great job of handling those scenes. Some of these scenes, including the one above, are extremely effective and borderline jaw-dropping. I don’t know if the film would’ve worked as well had another director shot it based on Johnson’s script—it’s pretty goddamn ambitious.
Speaking of ambitious, how about Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis? If you’ve seen the trailers, you know what I’m talking about—holy shit! I mean, I know JGL has become quite the chameleon, but I was expecting him to walk onto the set of Moonlighting during some of the scenes, for fuck’s sake. The make-up effects people did a damn good job. The cast are also fantastic throughout, from the leads Willis and JGL to the supporting cast of Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan, and Paul Dano. Johnson couldn’t have picked a more talented and effective bunch to bring this beast to life.
Noah Segan’s Kid Blue(pictured right) is one of the most pathetic and laughable characters I’ve seen in a while.
Looper is one of those rare films that are thought-provoking and provide a generally great viewing experience. Take some friends to see this with you, because you’re going to have some theories on the events that you’ll want to discuss. The only drawback for me with the film, was the somewhat anti-climactic ending. It’s not a terrible ending, and it fits the rest of the film, but you just see it coming a mile away. Like imagine buying a 500-piece puzzle that is of a secret picture—so you have to put it together to see what it is—but when you open the box, the middle is already completed and you see it’s a picture of some random Thomas Kinkade painting or whatever. You’d be a little disappointed. Looper is still a very strong film, and one of the best I’ve seen in years. I recommend seeing this on the big screen, otherwise you might be wishing time travel technology were real so you could undo your mistake.