Duration: 118 minutes
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels
Looper is what science fiction should be all about: an amalgamation of intelligence, challenges and entertainment. The Matrix, Inception and Dark City were such films and Looper fits cosily enough in their company.
Looper was made on a budget of $30 million
Rian Johnson who directs and writes Looper provides challenges aplenty where we see both Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play the same character. He manages to meld together themes of gangster noir, time travel and action into a film that by the end will have you want to see it all over again so as to dissect it piece by piece.
Looper kicks off in the middle of the 21st century. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is a looper. This is the term for an assassin in a world in which parts of society have developed telekinetic powers.
The technique is that the looper waits at an agreed location where, from 35 years in the future, organised criminals bring him his victim bound and gagged for him to kill and dispose of. Payment is handled in silver bars. For Joe this is a comfortable life and the money is spent on prostitute Suzie (Piper Perabo) and drugs.
The loopers are under the management of Abe (Jeff Daniels), who is also from the future. Everything changes when Joe’s newest mark turns out to be Joe himself - Old Joe played by Willis.
However, he manages to escape. Old Joe wants to kill The Rainmaker in the present when he is still a boy. This will mean he will be able to save his life in the future.
Meanwhile, Abe and others are looking for them to shut them off. Events lead to them staying at a farmhouse where Sara (Emily Blunt), a single mother, and her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon) live.
From then on matters will unhinge and time will be in danger of being derailed. To tell you more would rob you of the film’s deep bag of tricks.
The obvious comparison is with James Cameron’s classic The Terminator since both films involve time travel and an effort to change a future cataclysm. However, Johnson gives the film its own imprint and takes it in various directions with inventive energy.
The one-liners in the dialogue add some humour while all this is backed up by performances that are really excellent. It’s very interesting to see the interplay and mannerisms that Gordon-Levitt and Willis bring to the film as they play younger and older versions of the same character.
Johnson has a knack for building ambience and this benefits the film’s look which is very polished, giving us an interesting view of the future. In the world of the younger Joe the emphasis is on overindulgence.
Meanwhile, a desolated Kansas field serves to highlight the conundrum that the characters are in. Slowly we are immersed into the conflicts and turmoil that the characters are faced with as we are delivered a script that has real bite to it.
Looper was made on a budget of $30 million and so there was not enough money to go all deep into depicting the future. Rather, the film seems to be living on the outskirts of society and we are given titbits of a world that has changed. It’s this peep-hole look at the future which further grounds Looper in its own reality and makes it an even more interesting proposition.
The result is a beefy science-fiction thriller that will make the post-viewing discussion even more heated as one looks for plot holes that time travel movies inadvertently spawn.
It is definitely a film which is in the loop with its well-thought-out script.
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