If it's crap ... We'll tell you
If you’ve heard good things about the movie Looper, then you’ve heard right! It’s an excellent film from start to finish. That is, once you can get past Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s bizarre face. I found it to be pretty damn distracting for at least the first 20 minutes of the movie. However, before long I was far too engrossed by the story to care that he more resembled a catfish than a young Bruce Willis.
The set up of the story is unique and rather interesting. Joe (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a hitman for the mob. However in 2074 you don’t simply wack a guy with an ice pick to the back of the neck, like in the good ole Goodfella days. No, technology has advanced beyond that, so getting away with murder is ni-impossible in the future. Thankfully for the criminal underworld, time travel is not only possible but it’s also been outlawed making it a perfect tool for the mob to exploit. So now (or in 2044 rather) when you have somebody who needs killing you send them back in time to be taken out by a hitman they call a “Looper”. This is where Joe comes in.
As I previously stated, Joe is a hitman, a Looper. And a pretty damn good one at that. When he’s not dropping drugs into his eyes, he’s piling up bars of silver for a job well done. However, trouble arises when he’s tasked to kill his future self. Or “close the loop” as they call it. Rather than leave a bunch of unnecessary loose ends in the future, the deal is that once a Looper is no longer needed, his final contract is to kill his future self. Once the job is done, they’re awarded gold bars (instead of silver) and are allowed to live out the rest of their life with their accumulated wealth. Not too bad a deal, especially if you were never too fond of living out your golden years. Problems only arise if you fail to close the loop. Then you, and your future self are hunted down mercilessly until you’re found and killed. Unfortunately for Joe, Joe’s future self is ready for him when he’s sent back through time and manages to escape. Joe is left with one option, find his future self and finish the job or get killed himself.
This is the set up you should be familiar with if you’ve seen the trailer. You’re led to believe that Looper is simply a cat and mouse game between the two Joes. While that certainly plays a role in the movie, the parts they don’t show you in the trailer are where the most compelling aspects of the story lie. Because not knowing is part of what makes Looper so good, I’ll refrain from spoiling it for you. Instead, I’ll highlight aspects of where Looper really shined.
The acting in Looper was solid all around but Pierce Gagnon, who plays Cid, deserves acknowledgement because his performance was exceptional. I won’t give away his role in the movie, but he’s easily one of the best child actors I’ve seen. And one of the creepiest too.
For the most part, the characters in Looper were interesting and were pretty well developed. I was intrigued enough to actually care about what happened to them. The sequence where you get to see how Joe lives out his life and learn why he’s so determined to preserve it, is one of my favorite parts of the movie and helps flesh out Joe’s character. Early on I was really questioning which Joe to root for since they both had worthy ambitions but there’s a pivotal point where it’s made clear who the villain is.
The action is what you’ve come to expect from a movie with Bruce Willis attached to it. Once future Joe picks up a gun and starts unloading it’s clear to see why they chose Bruce Willis for the role. I would go as far as to say that it’s likely that Bruce Willis himself heavily influenced how the action scenes with his character were shot. In large part due to the contrast of the action scenes with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which were a bit more grounded. Once future Joe grabs a gun and starts unloading, everything in his path gets shot full of more holes than a Damon Lindelof script.
Although Looper does a lot of things right, there are a few things which I would have liked to have seen more developed. For one, the future doesn’t look all that much different from the present save for a few hover bikes, some eye drop drug and vehicles that look like smart cars with solar panels on the hood. It would have been nice to see a bit more of the world. However, not getting to doesn’t really take much away from the movie.
Although Looper has sci-fi elements it’s more of an action/thriller, rather than a full fledged science fiction movie. In other words, don’t expect to hear answers to questions like, “What would happen to someone who was killed by someone from the future, if the present version of that person who killed them was killed afterwards?” Or even something as simple as how they managed to build a damn time machine in the first place. There are plenty more space-time continuum related questions which are never addressed. While the nuts and bolts of time travel and its consequences are glossed over, they did tackle a couple aspects of it. For instance, if the present version of someone received an injury the future version would have a scar to show for it. They also explained that the future version of someone would gain the memories of their present self shortly after they did something.
Overall, if you haven’t seen Looper, buy it, rent it, borrow it, whatever. See it. It’s more than worth your time.