Edition 5: Film Review: Looper
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
In the future, time travel is outlawed. It is almost impossible for criminals to dispose of anyone. But with their hold of an illegal device, the mob can send people back in time to disappear. Their agents in the past are called ‘loopers’. They kill and dispose of every assignment. Part of their contract is one day they will deal with their own remaining loose end—their future selves. This day comes with a golden handshake and a promise of 30 years of retirement before they will be sent backwards to be their loop’s end.
Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was a street kid, victim of the tough economic times, the youngest ever looper. Joe’s plan is to save and go to France, but for now, he’s going to party with his friends, the other loopers. Around him, all the other loopers start closing their loops. There is talk of a new mob boss, the Rainmaker, closing all the timelines. But it all goes awry when one of his colleagues lets his future self get away.
What follows is a lesson in what it means to be involved with the mob in any time. When Joe’s next assignment arrives late, complete with payload, he is struck by the dilemma of ending his own life.
When his future self (Bruce Willis) sets out to kill the Rainmaker, currently a child, Joe is left to fend for himself, fleeing his former employer’s hired goons.
Looper is a science fiction thriller, filled with all the action and intrigue of downtown Kansas City. It is gritty and dirty, a dystopian world where the criminal element rules supreme. The action sequences succeed in maintaining a realistic feel, blood splatter included. In the future, there has also been the discovery of telekinesis in the population, and these sequences are visually exciting. Fans of a bit of gory action will be ecstatic with the scene where a man is bled out in mid-air.
The unfolding story is very much a playing out of the ethical implication of what meddling in the past can do to the future. A brilliant series of scenes ignores part of this premise to reflect immediate changes in the current time that would have altered the past, but it was an frightening interpretation of how the mob would use knowledge of the time continuum. It also makes a comment about what people would do in order to ensure their own future.
It can be hard to follow the different timelines of Joe, and to know which loop you are following. There is mid-level gore, which would be unavoidable in a story about the mob. Some of the secondary characters lack a little depth, but their stories are not what matters in the overall movie.
Visually, the film is incredible. Transforming Gordon-Levitt to look like Willis was no mean feat, but the effect is eerie and seamless. Both turn out a strong performance as the different incarnations of Joe, perhaps with only a little lost in Willis as an older mobster. The young Cid (Pierce Gagnon) is chillingly adult and childlike simultaneously, and will be one to watch. Blunt as his mother Sara does her best, but it the characterisation rings a little untrue, given what she would need to do to survive in the world. Some of her interactions with Joe make little sense, but human relationships and reactions are not always simple.
The ending may surprise a few, given what you come to know of the characters and their motivations, but in the scheme of the movie, it was a great way to round out their character development.
For two hours of seeing what the world could be with time travel perverted by the criminal underworld, as well as some exciting action sequences, I can highly recommend this film. It is the most entangled plot line I have seen for a while, but when it comes to fiddling with time, who can know what would happen?
If interested, the official Looper website can be found at http://www.loopermovie.com/.
Director: Rian Johnson
Producer: Ram Bergman, James D Stern
Writer: Rian Johnson
Studio: FilmDistrict, Endgame Entertainment, DMG Entertainment
Distributed By: TriStar Pictures, Alliance Films
Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels
Sophie is a scientist, aspiring writer, sci-fi and fantasy nerd. She is an editor with IFWG Publishing and has been Editor In Chief of SQ Mag and SQ Magazine, the previous incarnation. She also contributes book and film reviews. She is currently living in Vancouver, Canada.
You can find her in a few different places: @Smoph on Twitter, Sophie Yorkston – writer on Facebook, and at her blogs: Smoph’s Musings and Smoph Writes.