Whenever you have a film involving time travel, then the film automatically opens itself to scrutiny. It’s just one of those things that is unavoidable. Unless you are director Rian Johnson, who clearly block Looper from obvious nit pickings with a cleaver scene involving Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Willis and Levitt play the same character Joe, both young and old. The scene takes place in a diner where Old Joe tells Young Joe to not think to deep about time travel. That kind of thinking would bring on a headache and they would be there for hours trying to explain its concepts. That scene to me was directly talking to the audience, letting us know that time travel is just going to be a device to help tell a great story.
The story in a nutshell takes place in 2044 where specialized assassins called Loopers are used as killers for the mob. That would sound simple enough but it turns out that people they kill are sent from the future just for the purposes of being killed by the Loopers. After a while of killing, a Loopers time will come to an end after he kills his future self. This event is called “closing the loop”. The Looper is then given enough money to enjoy the years of living that he has left before he is sent back to be killed. Also existing in this universe are people born with very limited telekinesis. The abilities only stretch so far as lifting coins a few inches off the hands.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on whose point of view, Old Joe decides he wants to live in order to spend the rest of his life with his wife (Qing Xu). When he goes back in time, things start to change in unexpected ways. The road that young and old Joe travel makes for some of the most gripping two hours of cinema one can possibly experience. The performance that Levitt delivers is phenomenal. The makes you believe that he’s a younger Bruce Willis without hitting you over the head. This believability is also aided by the make-up that they apply to Levitt’s face to look more like Willis. Jeff Daniels also gives a stand out performance as Abe, the top boss of the present day Loopers. He play the gangster as a calm beast that will rub its head against you if you are kind to it but will snap your head off if you get out of line.
Young Joe’s travels lead him to the home of Sara (Emily Blunt) and her young son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). While it’s expected that Blunt’s performance would be up to par with the rest of the cast, the standout has to go to young Gagnon who brings a dark edge to Cid, that makes you wonder if you are actually watching a kid that young delivering this caliber of acting to the table. He was funny at moments and genuinely scary at others. His scenes are some of my favorites in the film. Rounding out the cast is Piper Perabo playing Suzie, a prostitute that you would never expect her to play.
Although we were nudged to ignore the time travel aspect and just go with it, I can’t help but nit pick some of the plot points. I won’t go into detail for fear of spoiling the film. Those thought are too few dissuade me from appreciating the films mastery at story telling.
Although it had a solid ending without the need for a sequel, I would love to revisit that world in some shape or form. Looper is a smartly crafted work of scifi drama that I’m sure will be on a lot of moviegoers top 5 list including mine. It was an emotional gut puncher as well as a thrill ride from start to finish.
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