Release: Friday, September 28, 2012
Either I am beginning to appreciate the value of having a great agent by your side to guide you through role-playing decisions, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt is just becoming this good. I suppose it might be a bit of both. He has shown up on many a big-screen in a rather short space of time, including films (pardon my raving here) that have achieved insane levels of success like Inception, TDKR, and now, Looper. (I guess it is yet to be determined how this latest Rian Johnson project will stack up compared to those others I just mentioned, but I have this tingling feeling in my gut that it will do pretty well…)
Jettison your mind roughly 35 years into the future; what do you see? What do you think you might see? Floating cars? Jet-pack-propelled baby strollers? Eh, not likely. Looper hints at those cliched technological developments in its use of alternative-energy guzzling cars that look like something out of the Jetsons space age. But there the joke kind of stops, the silliness ends, and the real movie starts to take shape.
However, even that — taking shape — is an elusive concept in this two-hour sci-fi flick from the director of Brick and even a couple episodes of the hugely successful cable T.V. series Breaking Bad.
The premise is relatively simple: kill the bad guys who have committed crimes in days yet to come by sending them back in time to meet their fate — usually in the form of a shotgun blast (or what they call blunderbusses due to their incredible inaccuracy at a certain range). The kill happens within nanoseconds of their arrival. The film opens with such an action, immediately pulling you in to the future with Levitt’s eyes as piercing as they’ve ever been. It’s amazing how contact lenses can make him look like the older version of himself, played by Bruce Willis.
And on that note we have our central storyline, our conflict. On the day-to-day, Joe (Gordon-Levitt/Willis) must kill all those criminals sent back to him. But when a friend, Seth, makes a critical mistake by failing to kill his next victim (none other than his future self) and is then hunted down and murdered because of his choice, Joe is forced to reexamine the process. It’s not exactly a career of humanity; in fact, it may be the definition of the opposite. Jeff Daniels plays Abe, a man from the future that now runs this organization of loopers. By the way, don’t expect him to become any Dumber than he was in times past….this is an entirely different, unfunny Daniels who plays the part nicely.
Back to the plot: shortly after his friend goes down rather horribly for his dereliction of duties, Joe experiences his own moment of trepidation. During a routine on-site killing, the big, bad, balding Bruce Willis appears….a.k.a., older Joe. And of course, he can’t do it either. He’s in the same position as Seth. But with Joe’s problem we have the rest of the film: a series of chasing through cornfields and through the chaotic chasms of a Kansas metropolitan in 2044. Both forms of Joe have two different purposes in mind: one is to fight his past self from making further, stupid choices; the other, to prove that he won’t.
The film moves brilliantly and seamlessly through several tense scenes including a very pivotal scene that reveals a child who is deeply ‘disturbed.’ This character comes to be known as the Rainmaker, an exceptionally bright kid whose telekinetic powers serve as something of a judgment day for both forms of Joe — and practically everyone involved in the looping process. This child is otherwise a very nice boy, being raised by a single mom (Emily Blunt) who seems to be able to hold her own ground just fine in the face of imminent danger. Sara’s parenting of Cid (“Rainmaker”) serves as a stark contrast to the brooding violence that dwells within Joe and the rest of the loopers, who, to be fair, are only trying to do their jobs. Her rationale for not killing the dangerously emotional Cid is that if he learns to grow up well and be treated nicely, he will resist the urge to do terrible things.
One can hope that love will be a stronger motivator than a blunderbuss.
Packed with stunning effects and creative action sequences, this futuristic thriller should have you begging for more by the time the credits surprisingly start rolling in an eerie silence.
Recommendation: “It’s Back to the Future meets Field of Dreams,” as one of my friends described it. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Maybe throw in a little bit of Bladerunner here and there, and you’ve got the picture. If you enjoy any of those you’ll love this. What’s that? You’re curious about time travel? Yep. Go!
Running Time: 118 mins.
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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com