Written and Directed by Rian Johnson
Starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Film review by Chris Olson
"Avoid The Loopholes"
Time Travel. The age-old question, and sworn enemy of continuity. A science-fiction convention so steeped in unanswerable questions that many who attempt its dissection, find themselves mumbling incoherently in a padded room. Such is the reputation of time travel, but still filmmakers endeavour not only to use the sticky subject, they wholeheartedly base their films around it. Rian Johnson (director of Brick, The Brothers Bloom) is one of these daring storytellers, whose film Looper has already earned him critical and popular acclaim. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a young and talented hired killer in the year 2042. His job (known as Looping) involves murdering targets who have been sent back from the future by powerful criminal organisations, who need to dispose of their victims. Time travel, not yet invented in 2042, is available to the richest and most powerful people 30 years later, but only to criminals as it has been outlawed. Joe, well paid for his services, enjoys a full-throttle lifestyle of eye-drop drugs and loose women, but always aware that his time may come. Because, crime lords of the future are keen on keeping their discretions secrets, which means that Loopers of the past must be killed in the future. This is where it gets a bit mind-bending, as Joe, at some point in his career, will have a future version of himself in front of him, who he must murder, thus keeping the cycle nice and clean. However, future Joe (in the form of Bruce Willis) is well-prepared, and manages to escape from his younger self, therefore creating a man-hunt which involves past and future Joes, as well as a bevy of baddies.
Reluctant to expand on much more of the story (mostly due to fear of a migraine), I will say this: Looper is a very, very worthwhile film. It holds together far better than most which attempt the tricky time travel plot, and benefits from a spectacular cast. Gordon-Levitt, already enjoying the spoils of a brilliant career this year, is his usual, understated-but-likable self (although the special effects to make him look like a young Bruce Willis is quite distracting at first). He maintains the character’s balance between action-hero and anti-hero well. Willis is the perfect maturation figure for Joe, offering a tired and wise killer who is very dangerous, but also relatable, as we are given the story of Joe’s past (or future, depending on which one you are referring to) which shows why he has disturbed the time-space continuum in order to wreak havoc in the past.
Emily Blunt turns up as a red-neck farmer called Sara, living with her telekinetic son in a dilapidated home amongst the corn fields. Her son, tangled up with future Joe’s reasons for returning, becomes a focal point for the story, as does Sara’s relationship with present Joe. Deserving of its acclaim, Looper is an intelligent, engaging movie that deals with a complicated story in a very entertaining way. The violence is just heavy enough to bolster it into adult territory, as is the swearing - in particular from Blunt, whose dirty American accent and cursing is a welcome change from her usual British stereotype. Time travel movies tend to rear up many questions about alternate realities, butterfly effects and the like, but Looper manages to include those subjects, without making the movie feel nerdy. You don’t need a degree in physics to keep up with the story here, and you can enjoy the story without going into all the sci-fi stuff. If you do start to pull apart the themes and issues at work here though, you may find yourself in that padded room.