Going into a film with preconceived notions about it is a bad thing. It takes films like Rian Johnson’s (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) Looper to teach you this sometimes difficult lesson to learn. If you had seen the trailers for Looper before going to see it you would have mistakenly thought it was a time travelling action flick. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, it is about time travelling and it does feature some action, but in its essence it is a film about the “moment”, the choices we make in that moment and how they can affect or even alter the future. Ideas of redemption, regret, sacrifice, love, and loss. In essence the sci fi angle and time travel plays second fiddle to the ideas behind the film.
In the year 2044, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt – The Dark Knight Rises, 50/50) works as a looper. Loopers are basically hitmen who work for an organized crime syndicate from the year 2074. Time travel has been possible for a while, but in 2074 it has been outlawed. Of course criminals don’t really heed laws and so they use time travel to get “rid” of people they want to. What they do is they send the people back to 2044 where the loopers then kill them and dispose of the body. Everything is going along smoothly for Joe until his future self (Bruce Willis – Die Hard, Pulp Fiction) comes through and he is expected to kill him.
While contemplating all this Old Joe uses Joe’s distraction to escape. Now Joe’s boss Abe (Jeff Daniels – Dumb & Dumber, Good Night, And Good Luck) is furious and sends his own men out to get Old Joe. Meanwhile, Joe has used a location on a map that Old Joe has given him and comes across a woman named Sara (Emily Blunt -The Five Year Engagement, The Young Victoria) and her young son Cid (Pierce Gagnon – from television’s One Tree Hill). Suddenly, it becomes apparent to Joe that he is going to have to make a choice about himself, Cid, Sara, and Old Joe. And it is not going to be an easy one.
After the lights go up and the credits are running you will still find pieces of the puzzle that is Looper falling into place. There will be still some figuring things out going on. It definitely works the mental muscle. There is some concentration required of you by the film. Don’t be scared off, though, as it is not too complex to be able to follow. It is also not too cerebral that it pulls you out of the action segments. A perfect combination.
Each of the actors does a good job. From the child actor Pierce Gagnon to Joseph Gordon-Levitt they all bring different levels to their characters. Gordon-Levitt has to act beneath all that make up and prosthetics. He does a good job as a younger Bruce Willis replicating some well known Willis mannerism. Emily Blunt plays a very different character for her. She has mid-West accent, is tough, swears, and wields a gun. Yet she is also able to have some warm and maternal moments with her son. And that boy! Wow! He is able to convey some very mature emotions and lines for such a young actor.
Something has to be said about director Rian Johnson. When he first came out with his film Brick I thought he had potential, but was reserving judgment. Now that he has created this second strong film I am convinced that this guy is a true talent. Everything about the film (other than maybe some little parts in the middle of the film) is spot on. The pacing is great, the script is tightly written, visuals are cool, and it has some great dry humour. Most importantly he has constructed this film that is complex and is devoid of big plot holes and has made a realistic future world.
A worthwhile movie that you might have to rewatch to get the full effect.