This review first appeared on Cinehouse. To view the original article click here
When Looper was released in 2012 it made my top ten of the year. Directed by Rian Johnson (Brick) Looper is a smart science fiction movie with a high concept premise that does an about turn half way through its running time and heads off in an unexpected direction.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a mid 21st century assassin with a difference, a Looper. Working for an organised crime syndicate, he kills targets sent back from the future where time travel has been invented and is in the hands of criminals. All is running smoothly until he is called upon to ‘close his loop’ and assassinate his future self (Bruce Willis). When he fails to pull the trigger future Joe goes on the run.
Looper deftly avoids the raft of exposition and time travel paradox dialogue that bogs down many time travel adventures (and episodes of Star Trek). In a rather disturbing scene, a Looper’s younger self is tortured, and we see his present self change before our eyes into a disturbed, shell of a man. However this universe is strikingly close to our own. It’s recognisable and it’s close. No overindulgence by the director in recreating an alien future with all its shiny new technology. The differences are subtle, like viewing our own world through a cracked mirror.
The heart of the film is Emily Blunt, a tough as nails single mother who allows young Joe to hide out on her farm. Through her we get to explore the questions surrounding destiny, moral ambiguity and the nature vs. nurture debate.
Let’s not forget the action in Looper. Bruce Willis more than holds his own in the slick action sequences. In your mind’s eye you can almost see him in his white vest from Die Hard. But it is Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is the real stand out in this film. With the disconcerting prosthetics to make him appear like a plausible young version of Willis, he looks oddly askew from the actor we’re familiar with. Instead, the makeup actually masks his ordinarily boyish looks which would have made him a far less convincing character. He’s also racking up one of the best CVs in film.
Looper then is a worthy addition to the time travel genre, with shades of Blade Runner, Terminator 2 and Twelve Monkeys running through it – even if it does ask more questions than it eventually answers.
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