Science Fiction and time travel, time travel and science fiction; the two go hand in hand like peanut butter to jelly and yet, some still manage to mess it up. Actually for a number of years, a lot of filmmakers have messed it up, so much so that you can’t help but be a little guarded when seeing any film based around time travelling as a whole. And because very few have solved that riddle, I had no reason to expect much from the film, “Looper,” leaving the door wide open to be surprised.
In the great year of 2044 we find the U.S. in complete disarray, both economically and socially. And then on top of that, a portion of the population has been given telekinetic powers due to some unexplained mutation. Most would levitate small objects like quarters, but over time that got boring when everyone realized that was all they could do. Thirty years into the future time travel is invented and then quickly banned. But, not before crime organizations are able to create an illegal system of disposing bodies from the future to the past. That system contained ‘Looper’s,’ assassins hired by these same organizations to kill victims sent back in time. So when contacted, they would arrive at a specific time and spot and kill these silver-wrapped victims upon arrival. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was one of these Looper’s, but when his future self came through one day, all hell broke loose. Turns out the old-Joe was on a revenge mission to find and kill the ‘Rainmaker,’ a powerful telekinetic 11-year-old kid named Cid that some 30 years later had become a ruthless crime boss dead set of closing all loops to the past. But, that only scratches the surface to this twisted story that will have you in knots by the time old Joe (Bruce Willis) and young Joe meet in the final act.
Anytime Bruce Willis is around, I guess he automatically gets mentioned, but this was not his film. Yeah, he was in it and probably didn’t need to be, but the real star here was Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Here’s a guy that people may recognize, but won’t know from where until a friend tells them he was the “other” guy opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in “Inception.” Because very few saw “500 Days of Summer” and I doubt those same people will remember him in “The Dark Knight Rises,” even though they should given how that film ended. This is the simple fate of one Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who truly is becoming a factor in Hollywood and after this, might get a few more calls. This guy has tremendous range as an actor and with this role, had his face transformed to essentially become a “young” Bruce Willis. Well, it worked, as I was quickly a believer in everything he was doing in the past and future of this dynamic story; one that also had a blonde Emily Blunt in it, which was strange to see given her natural dark hair. I like Blunt, though, and while she might not have been as prevalent as Willis or Gordon-Levitt, she still made her impact whenever possible. And that’s all you can ask from any supporting role. Just ask Jeff Daniels, who has made a career out of doing exactly what he did here, which was steal scenes when you least expect him to. That’s Daniels and he was in rare form here playing the token bad guy from the future.
For all that’s said about directors with little experience taking on a project they probably can’t handle, you haven’t met director Rian Johnson. Having only directed two films prior to “Looper,” it’s easy to pass judgment on Johnson. I did, but that quickly dissipated after seeing how he built his film to look and feel. And that was from the script out, as Johnson also held the title of screenwriter, which I found to be his greatest asset. He took his words and applied them in a way no one else could have, making sure everything was in unison. That may be obvious and part of every director’s job, but when you write and direct, I think the result will always be different, good or bad. Here, it was good, mostly because of Johnson and his will to make sure no stone was left unturned. Sure, it was a little hard to follow in parts, but overall I knew exactly what was going on and at no point, did the special effects overtake the story. That’s crucial and quite frankly something very few sci-fi flicks can claim to, much less one centered around time travel. So, credit Johnson for trusting his own script and ability to keep it all in front of him, staying true to the “less is more” mentality. Doing that allowed the audience to see more into the characters and the situations presented from time travel.
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