Sure, there’s a paradox or two, but on the other hand, who died and made you a physicist?
I’m just going to come out and say it: Looper is everything I love about movies. It’s a thought-provoking film that offers a new take on universal themes. Oh, and mind-bending time loops.
Looper was one of the most anticipated films of the year, marking director Rian Johnson‘s reunion with rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, together for the first time since the genre deconstruction Brick. There was a lot of expectation riding on this film even before the trailer was released, but even still, it lives up to the hype. It may be this year’s Inception.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stands alone in a corn field with a gun. Suddenly, a hooded man appears before him, and without missing a beat, Gordon-Levitt shoots him and disposes of the body for a few bars of silver. This is the life Joe leads as a contract killer known as a Looper. The men that suddenly appear before him are sent by the mob from 30 years in the future so he can make them “disappear.” So, Joe does this day in and day out, until suddenly he sees his own face staring back at him. Joe finds himself pointing his gun at an older version of himself (Bruce Willis). Of course, Joe always new this day would come, but that doesn’t mean Old Joe is going to make it any easier for him.
Rian Johnson presents one of the most unique time travel films of all time. Rather than presenting a good guy and a bad guy, the film ventures into a gray area that cast Joe as both the hero and the villain, or rather neither of these. Old Joe sets out to fix the future and save his life, while young Joe is determined to stop his older version by any means necessary. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the film takes a good long look at morality and the choices people make in their lives. Old Joe is only the result of one possible timeline, and as the film goes, on his memory changes to reflect what’s happening in his past as Young Joe makes his own choices. Still, he holds on to the memory of his future wife, the person he’s fighting for.
Looper is a stylish film that melds the past and future together to create a unique vision. Johnson blends different genres together and essentially comes up with a story that borrows from noir, sci-fi and western films. This works so much better than one would think. In this blend are plenty of hard-nosed characters, themes of redemption, and lots of emphasis on the lighting. The first half of the movie is filled with darkness and cramped spaces from a future society on the edge of dystopia. The second half moves out to the country, giving the audience lots of sunshine and wide shots.
Levitt turns in one of the best Bruce Willis impressions I’ve ever seen, and despite how different the two actors seem, it gets easier and easier to believe that they are in fact the same person. (The prosthetic nose doesn’t hurt.) Joining the two powerhouse leads are the likes of Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels, the latter of whom plays the leader of the Loopers, a man from the future sent back to take care of the assassinations in the “present.” Johnson keeps the dialogue tight and fluid, giving the film the feeling that it’s constantly moving, even when two men are just chatting over breakfast. However, it never feels rushed, instead only emphasizing the tension.
Looper may make you think, but for all its philosophy, it’s just as much fun to watch as it is to think about. It’s action-packed while still providing material that leaves the audience wondering, one of the most well-crafted science fiction movies I’ve seen in a long time and easily one of the best films of the year. It should be seen in theaters, and often. I personally can’t wait to go and see Looper again.