All of the trailers for Rian Johnson’s Looper felt, to me, like the film was going to be a futuristic version of Harrison Ford’s classic The Fugitive. I thought it was going to be an entertaining chase flick, full of close calls, grand theft auto, and leaps of faith from tall buildings. Maybe even a one-armed man.
What I didn’t expect, was a smart, thoughtful, action film that explored everything from the paradoxical nature of time and the inherent dangers of time travel, to the influence of love and family as a formative element within our lives. Had I made the connection ahead of time, that Rian Johnson also directed the superb neo-noir film Brick (currently available to stream on Netflix), I might have been more prepared for the kind of film Looper truly is.
Set roughly thirty years in our future, Looper follows a gangster named Joe, played by an almost unrecognizable Joseph Gorden-Levitt (seriously, the prosthetic work is astounding), whose occupation gives the film its title. You see, thirty years further into the future, time travel is invented and is immediately outlawed. The future criminal organizations adopt the technology and use it to send people they want eliminated into the past, Joe’s present, where it is easier to get rid of the bodies. As a Looper, Joe’s job is to wait in a field, with a tarp and a gun and, when the bound and hooded mark appears from the future, he blows them away, collects his pay (in silver bars attached to the mark), and gets rid of the body.
Now, as part of the Looper contract, when the future crime bosses have no more use for you, they send your future self back to your past self to be disposed of. At which point, you get a huge payout, and are released from your contract safe with the knowledge that you have exactly thirty years to live.
When Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back sans binding and hood and overpowers him, it sets into play a series of events that could dramatically alter the future.
With a supporting cast that includes Paul Dano, Emily Blunt, Jeff Danials, and Piper Perabo, Looper manages to tell a deep, intelligent story filled with well-written characters and beautifully shot action sequences.
One of the most striking elements of the film is in the usage of the special effects. In many science fiction films, technology is either all futuristic, or all current, which is an overly- simplified view at the very least. Looper shows a world where the past (our present?) is trying to adapt future technology to what is already available: cars with solar panels practically duct taped to them, houses with aluminum siding and touch-screen windows.
That’s all well and good, you might say, but is it worth the ridiculously rising cost of a movie ticket?
Hell yeah it is! Especially in a time where most of the movies that come out are a knock-off, remake, or adaptation of the same old movies we saw fifteen years ago, the opportunity to see a well-made, well-written original film is well worth the cost of admission.
What are you still doing here?
Seriously, go see this movie.