'Looper' made quite a critical splash upon its release. A smart, ambitious science fiction film with a dynamite cast doesn't come along every day. Let's see if the movie deserved all of the acclaim.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper, meaning he is a specific kind of hired killer. The mobsters from the future utilized banned-time travel technology to send people to the past to be killed and disposed of because thirty years down the line, technology keeps track of everyone's whereabouts. To 'close the loop,' the older versions of the loopers are sent back in time to be killed off by their younger selves. It pays handsomely and means they are retired and can live for another next thirty years. Ummm..yay?
Anyway, there is the rare instance when a target escapes from a looper. This creates all sorts of problems. A fellow looper can't close his own loop and things end badly for him.
Not long after, Joe encounters a man who turns out to be his older self (played by Bruce Willis). Old Joe beats up young Joe and escapes. This means they are both targeted by the modern mob who wants things to continue to runs smoothly. Young Joe wants to catch and kill old Joe to clear his name and make things right. Old Joe wants to kill someone in the present day who will grow up to be the Rainmaker, a man closes all of the loops which ruins old Joe's idyllic life in the future.
Will young Joe catch and kill his older self to make everything right? Would that even grant him a pardon? Will old Joe find the rainmaker and prevent trouble in the future? How does Emily Blunt figure into all of this? Are you still following this or have your eyes glazed over by now?
On the surface, 'Looper' is one of the more exciting and clever action/sci-fi films in recent memory. It is tightly paced and we are launched into the action right away. No lazy preambles or dull exposition. There is tons of action, Bruce Willis kills dozens of people and the special effects are more than solid.
Upon further reflection, there are some plot holes. Most of these problems are best discussed after seeing the movie because otherwise, we might be entering spoiler territory. Needless to say, whenever you feature time travel in a movie, there will be a number of 'what ifs' and unanswered questions that will muddy things up.
One might be tempted to say that the story slows down in the second half when we settle on a farmhouse setting (how does one woman manage a whole cane field by herself?!) for young Joe. In fact, the old Joe side of the story picks up momentum while his young, present-day counterpart waits for the inevitable confrontation. We probably shouldn't be rooting for old Joe at all, but part of us probably is.
What also can be said about the second half is that the focus of the story shifts dramatically. The fact that both Joes are running from the mob is still important but the relationship between young Joe, a mother and her son is even more vital.
Writer/Director Rian Johnson is a very clever filmmaker and a good writer. 'Brick' may have been a bit pretentious, inventing a semi-film noir lingo, but it was a start. Much more successful was 'The Brothers Bloom.' 'Looper' merely ups the ante and takes things to a different level. The science fiction and the faulty time-travel logic isn't meant to be the star of the show, it's more about strong characters and their complicated relationships.
JGL has a lot of Willis' mannerisms down and it's a solid performance, even if the mimicry is a little bit of a stretch. Jeff Daniels gets some juicy dialog while mostly behind a desk. Emily Blunt is dandy and keeps an eye out for an occasionally creepy, telekinetic little boy.
Special features include: a few previews.
Yes, 'Looper' falls apart a little bit under careful scrutiny, but it is very entertaining if you are willing to suspend your disbelief. Don't spend the whole time picking apart every detail. Just go with it.
It's still a really fun movie and you should give it a chance.
Rated R 118 minutes 2013