Looper Review

Or translated for the Korean poster:
Time Travel Hit Squad Explosion Twins

I’ll be honest, I was going to see this movie no matter what.  The premise was strong enough to hook me on its own merit.  Joseph Gordon Levitt is an assassin who has to kill a time traveling version of himself played by Bruce Willis?  I’ll take two tickets please: one for me, and one for my boner.  But the best part about seeing this in the theater was the fact that this is actually a fantastic movie!  Like I said, there is a strong draw based solely on the acting talent involved and a very cool concept, but as I was watching I found myself absolutely sucked into this world that writer/director Rian Johnson had created.

I’m not going to get into many specifics because I think that the marketing people did a great job of stirring up excitement for this movie without giving away too much of the actual plot.  But here’s what everyone probably knows going into see this flick:

– Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is a “Looper”

– Loopers are basically thugs hired by organized crime syndicates, and specialize in a very specific form of body disposal

– 30 years in the future (of a film already set about 50 years in our own future) time travel becomes possible and is immediately outlawed

– crime syndicates use illegal time travel to send live people back in time to be killed and disposed of

“Wait, you built a time machine to do WHAT with??”

Does this seem like a needlessly complicated way for the mob to dispose of bodies?  Yes.  But apparently in the future, everybody is tagged and tracked making body disposal a needlessly complicated process.  So if you are really, REALLY motivated to get someone got, you’ve gotta send them back in time to a point where they shouldn’t exist.

“So why the hell are these guys called Loopers??” you scream at your computer.  Well calm down, hypothetical 47Reviews enthusiast (not hypothetical because I’m making this person up, hypothetical because 47Reviews doesn’t actually have “enthusiasts”).  When Loopers take this fairly lucrative killing position, they know that eventually they become a liability to the syndicate and will be sent back in time to be killed by a young version of themselves.  Thereby closing their “loop.”  Eh?  EH??  Look, trust me that this actually makes a weird kind of sense in the movie, and I’m doing my best not to spoil too much of the plot.  The point is, loopers don’t know when they’re gonna have to kill their future self.  So it’s a fun surprise for all parties involved

Anyway young Joe (JGL) unsurprisingly becomes faced with the daunting task of killing his future self (Bruce Willis), but totally blows it.  Old Joe gets the drop on young Joe, and makes a break for it.  Now it’s up to Young Joe to close his loop or the mob will take incredibly clever and disturbing measures to bring them both down.  The only problem is that old Joe has a twist reason for wanting to stay alive in the past, and THAT is the story that really drives the movie.  Everything up to that point is fun and gimmicky, but truly the story is compelling rich with character development and complex motivations.  How can the same person be so at odds with himself?  What have the past (or future) 30 years done to Joe?

Time travel movies are always a delicate balancing act, but I thought that “Looper” did a great job with such tricky material.  Some of it was a cop-out, like anytime someone tried to bring up the mechanics of time travel, someone else would be like, “Cut it out, or we’re gonna be here all day discussing this bullshit.”  But the movie makers delve into it enough to explain how old Joe’s memories are blurring and shifting up to the point that something actually happens to young Joe, showing that things haven’t been fixed yet.

“I blame the blurry memories on time travel. Definitely not the binge drinking.”

The movie has some very clever pieces of dialogue, many of which are obviously based on the time travel premise.  It also paints a convincing picture of our own world set slightly in the future.  Everything from houses to cars have been decked out in dilapidated solar panels, junkies are hooked on new and improved designer drugs, small mutations from radiation exposure have been introduced into the gene pool, etc.  This is a lovingly crafted film that has plenty of action for the Willis fans, balanced nicely against a well paced and intriguing script for the Levitt fans.  Jeff Daniels shows up to give an unexpectedly fun performance as the syndicate’s present/future liaison, and Emily Blunt also does an exceptional job as, well, you’ll see.  I think Blunt is a great actress, even though personally I don’t…

find her…

that attractive.

Have you seen the movie?  What did you think about it?  Let me know in the comments below!

~ Jonny Green