Original and genuinely unpredictable, Looper is a movie you’ll want to see without knowing too much about it. That might seem counter-intuitive to writing a review, but if you have the willpower then stop reading right now and go and see this movie. Marketed as a Science Fiction Action film, Looper is actually a character based thriller that just happens to be set in the future. This is one of those unique films that manages to bridge the gap between genres to weave an excellent thought-provoking story that doesn’t fail to entertain. It’s the season for remakes these days, there is well over fifty in production from what I can tell so to find a movie as original and entertaining as Looper is a luxury that I hope everyone exploits.
Set in 2042, Looper is the story of Joe (Jason Gordon-Levitt) and his unique profession. Time Travel is invented in 2072, but in that future technology has effectively made killing someone impossible, so the mafia of that future send their victims back in time to be killed by assassins like Joe called “Loopers”. They’re called “Loopers” because when their contracts are up, they themselves are sent back in time to be killed by, well, themselves. This is called “closing the loop” and when it happens they get a golden payday and have 30 years to do whatever they wish. When that time is up, someone shows up, hoods and gags them and sends them back in time.
Our story kicks off when Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back to be killed by himself but he shows up without a gag, without a hood, and young Joe hesitates just enough for old Joe to get away. Letting yourself get away isn’t a good thing, and now Joe must close his loop before the mafia find him and, well, you’ll have to see the film to find out what happens to guys who don’t close their loop. That’s really only scratching the surface of the plot of this movie, but to explain any more would not just ruin the movie but without proper context would not make any sense whatsoever.
With such a complex plot and a lot of room for confusion it’s a testament to Director and Writer Rian Johnson that it never gets out of hand. This is also due in part to the performances of Gordon-Levitt and Willis as well as Emily Blunt who plays a farmer named Sara. All three remain grounded and bring a great sense of depth to their roles, something usually missing from modern science fiction. Gordon-Levitt produces probably the performance of his career almost impeccably imitating the idiosyncrasies of Willis to make a convincing effort at playing his younger self. Blunt also steps out of her comfort zone showing she’s more than just a female version of Hugh Grant.
The star of the show however is the unique twists and turns in the story that I couldn’t see coming and I doubt anyone would. There’s a myriad of moments in the film where you just don’t know where it’s going or what is going to happen next. It’s a shame that in the end Johnson couldn’t quite nail the inevitable climatic action sequences because the first two acts of the film deserved a fantastic conclusion. That isn’t to say the end is poor, it’s quite good, but those less inclined to enjoy character drama would probably be disappointed with the action.
There is also of course the inevitable discussion around time travel and the paradoxes created by changing the past. The film stays away from this discussion and quite openly admits that it doesn’t care, it’s clearly just about telling a good story. Regardless, the film prescribes to a very linear idea of time travel, which many might call lazy because it conveniently dismisses any paradox but to be honest, why let that get in the way of a really good movie?
Do yourself a favour and go and see Looper, even if you don’t enjoy it then at least you know you’re contributing to the box office of an original movie which might help convince studios to bank roll more original material. I saw last week that they intend to remake The Crow, I don’t know about you but there is only ever going to be one movie called The Crow and I’d rather see an original story try to recreate it then a remake destroy it. In a parallel universe I’d like to be giving Looper a lower star rating because it should be the “average” standard of cinema. Perhaps one day this will be true, but until then, just go and enjoy this film.