In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.
Ah yes, the science fiction genre.
If there is one genre which has new movies battling against giants from its much lauded past it’s science fiction. Classics like Blade Runner or Star Trek will always come into a conversation whenever a new sci-fi movie is announced.
And the latest one added to the bunch is ‘Looper’, which in essence is a story about a man trying to prevent his own death by time travel.
Sounds a little ‘been there, done that’ doesn’t it?
‘Looper’ has received a lot of critical acclaim the last couple of months, especially amongst the internet crowds for it’s intricate storytelling and great performances. The story is centered around Joe (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis). Joe is a looper, and what a looper is (and why Joe is played by 2 actors) needs some explanation.
A looper is a hired gun, the catch of it all is that the hired gun is actually hired by people from 2074 and used in 2044 to kill people that the mob wants to dispose of. Time travel is common in 2074, so the mob will have a guy kicked into the machine (blindfolded),only to come out on the other side and have a looper waiting to kill and dispose of him at the exact spot that he lands. Joe is such a looper and as such is responsible for killing a lot of people. After a succesfull kill he gets 2 bars of pure silver (the new gold in the future) and that’s that.
But disaster is lurking when Joe finds out that a mysterious man nicknamed ‘The Rainmaker’ is disposing of the loopers by sending their old selves back into time. If that sounds confusing, let me explain that more simple: your 50 year old self in 2074 gets sent back through time (blindfolded as I mentioned) only to get killed by your 20 year old self. Since the guy is blindfolded, you wont find out you killed yourself until after you take the blindfold off your victim and find the increased pay of not 2 but 20 silver bars and come to the conclusion that you just killed yourself.
The concept of time travelling has always been a source of great debate, and you probably will have to read my piece on this, or those of others, multiple times before wrapping your mind around it.
But aside from that, the real story of ‘Looper’ comes when Joe gets face to face with his old self (played by Bruce Willis) and lets him escape. Letting your ‘loop’ escape is equal to getting the death penalty, so both Joe’s find themselves on the run from the corporation.
Quite soon after, Joe finds out that the reason his older self tried to escape is because he wants to kill the 6 year old version of the rainmaker, in order to stop the killings that are happening.
This, in all fairness, still is a pretty understandable story to tell, and aside from the aforementioned trouble you face naturally from understanding the concept of time travel, Looper plays out as a basic action movie.
Ofcourse, there are flying bikes and some futuristic gadgets to witness, but in the end it’s just 2 guys trying to find the big bad guy, and that ultimately struck me as a tad dissapointing.
One of the major questions people ask when someone travels back in time to meet his younger self is the fact that since he’s travelling back, he should have knowledge of meeting his older self back when he was young. Looper tries to avoid this loophole (see what I did there) by having Old Joe exclaim that his memory is blurry when he travels back in time, and gets more clearer as actions take place.
It’s a fairly smart way of avoiding any internet hatred from people, as well as giving us as an audience less of a struggle to understand it’s plot. Director Rian Johnson (who made the excellent movie Brick with Joseph in 2005) shows that he’s able to take on bigger projects, and Bruce Willis shows that he still has what it takes in terms of action roles. (was there ever any doubt?)
Emily Blunt features as well in a role that I can’t say a whole lot about without getting into spoiler territory, but I thought her performance complemented that of the others.
Jeff Daniels features as the mob boss Abe, a refreshing turn for Jeff, who to me will always be Harry from Dumb and Dumber, but he doesn’t manage to become anything else than a caricature of a bad guy.
The end result of all those components manages to overcome the criticism most people will have towards a time travel movie, and Looper is worth your time.
A minor point is the make-up from Levitt (as seen in the picture above), director Johnson found that the distinct difference between the looks of Levitt and Willis needed a boost, and therefore commisioned the make-up department to fix prosthetics for Levitt so he resembles Willis a bit more.
Even though the make-up is very well done and even had my girlfriend wondering if it was Levitt when she first saw him on screen, it felt distracting to see one of the most recognizable faces in modern cinema become some sort of Bruce Willis clone.
If you’ll turn out to become a fan of Looper will hinge on the fact if you’re willing to let some of it’s lesser thought out components slide for the overall fun that this movie brings.
We don’t get a whole lot of good sci-fi movies every year, so enjoy this one!