The best thing about the sci-fi genre is that there’s an infinite amount of room for creativity. Rian Johnson’s Looper is a science fiction crime thriller, with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, playing older and younger versions of the same character.
The film depicts that time travel is invented by 2074 and is used illegally by criminal organisations who send those they want killed thirty years into the past, where they are executed by hitmen called ‘loopers’. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is one of these loopers and his problems begin when his older self is sent back in time to be taken out.
Many films with complicated plots spend too much time explaining the logic and theory behind the story. Thankfully, Looper gets most of this out of the way in the opening sequence. The idea that criminal organisations dispose of their victims by zapping them into the past so they technically don’t exist, is a cool idea. But when watching this film, I had the nagging feeling that there must be easier ways of getting rid of an unwanted individual.
In the late twenty first century, you’d think there would be all kinds of technology that criminals could use to cover up their deeds. Looper‘s justification for the use of time travel in the first place is a bit messy and questionable, but this film is so engaging that I could overlook any shortcomings.
Looper is entertaining and very intelligent, with an engaging story and compelling characters that hold your interest throughout. Gordon-Levitt produces a terrific performance. He’s almost unrecognisable with his facial prosthetic, which is supposed to make him look more convincing as a young Bruce Willis.
The characterisation is one of the film’s greatest strengths. I particularly liked the villain who appears as both a grown man and a child within the past and future. The creepy child Cid (Pierce Magnon), becomes a target as he grows up to be a powerful crime boss in the future. There’s some seriously great scenes involving the kid. I’m talking about slow motion, matrix-style action! And just like The Matrix, this film will have your mind working overtime as you try to figure out its complex plot, that includes alternate timelines and paradoxes.
Willis and Gordon-Levitt are great together as a pair of conflicted action heroes, who have their own goals and intentions, even though they are playing different versions of the same character. They could not be more different as the titular looper Joe.
I highly rate Looper, but it does get caught up in its own ideas at points. What I mean is that it’s slightly narcissistic in the way it presents itself. But that doesn’t make it any less intriguing. Looper is a fun and adventurous movie with a jaw-dropping conclusion.
Quoted: “Time travel has not been invented yet. But thirty years from now, it will have been.”
Directed and written by: Rian Johnson
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Peirce Magnon.
Distributors: Sony Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Entertainment One
Run Time: 119 min