Rating: 4 stars out of 5
‘Looper’ is emerging director Rian Johnson’s third feature directorial effort after ‘Brick’ and ‘The Brothers Bloom’. His new film depicts America in the near future.
The year is 2044. America is in ruins from an economic collapse and social decay is rampant, with organised crime particularly common. Time travel hasn’t been invented yet. But it will be in 30 years. It will be made illegal almost immediately, only harnessed by criminals to dump someone they want killed into the past for specialised assassins known as Loopers to kill and dispose of.
The Looper is then paid with silver bars that are attached to the victim. The technology is so illegal that the client usually wants to disassociate themselves from the Looper as much as possible and will eventually send the Looper’s older self back in time to be killed. This is called, ‘closing the loop’.
Things really get out of hand for main character Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) when Future-Joe is sent back into time to be killed by present day Joe. Young Joe loses Future Joe and has to avoid being hunted down by the very mafia he works for while trying to set things right with his future self.
Gordon-Levitt is just great. He’s able to lend his nuanced acting style to play up both the flaws and charms of his character to great effect. Bruce Willis plays JGL’s future self, a much different man whose pain is seemingly written all over his face. Both of them play their roles with stark grit, and the pair’s conflict is fun to watch. They’re literally the same person ... but not really. It’s smart, thought provoking and darkly funny at times.
But what we thought would be Levitt vs. Willis turns out to be nothing like that. Their individual stories combine to take the movie in opposite directions that are most unpredictable. The many curve balls can’t be written about here though in case we spoil the plot. Suffice to say nothing it all comes together in the end and makes such sense that you might kick yourself not having grasped something.
‘Looper’ is a well-rounded package. It’s really brainy in its sci-fi rooted nature and will get you thinking about concepts like destiny, fate and free will. Intelligent science fiction like this almost always runs the danger of being cold and unrealistic but not ‘Looper’. It’s a really complete marriage of big ideas, compelling characters and cool action that will impress audiences.