Writer-director Rian Johnson’s latest is a time-travel film worth taking. It is an intricate and creative story that requires you to pay attention to the plot twists. Therefore, I recommend that you visit the restroom before the movie really gets going. “This time travel crap just fries your brain like an egg,” quips mob boss Jeff Daniels. Don’t worry if you don’t completely understand all the details of time travel. By the third act, Johnson’s clever script ties the loose-ends or more precisely “closes the loop” nicely. Johnson rewrites the rules of time travel into a slick sci-fi action thriller. As one moviegoer said to his girlfriend while exiting the theatre, “That was the most solid movie I’ve seen in a long time.” I totally agree.
Set in 2044, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a hired killer known as a looper. “Time travel has not yet been invented but 30 years from now, it will have been. I am one of many specialized assassins in our present called loopers,” Joe explains. Okay, try to follow me. In 2074, time travel exists but is outlawed. When someone needs to be killed in the future (2074), they are sent back to the past (2044) to avoid any messes. In a cornfield, Joe waits with a futuristic shotgun called a ‘Blunderbuss’ to shoot the victim and discard the corpse. For Joe’s efforts, Abe (Jeff Daniels) rewards him handsomely with silver bars.
Keep following me because the story gets even more absorbing. Loopers such as Joe work for a powerful organized crime syndicate. Eventually the looper’s services are no longer needed and they are given an early retirement that lasts exactly 30 years. Retiring a looper is usually a rare event until a new crime lord takes over known only as the Rainmaker. Loopers are now being kicked out of service at an alarming rate. Joe witnesses this firsthand when his bestfriend Seth (Paul Dano) refuses to kill his future self which is called ‘closing the loop.’ If your head is spinning at this point, there is no need to worry.
The story really gets good when Joe is ordered to kill his future self (Bruce Willis). The problem is that Old Joe is unwilling to die without a fight. One of the best scenes of the film is at a retro diner. The two Joes (Gordon-Levitt and Willis) face off with each other. Some of the wittiest dialogue takes place in the diner. Old Joe says, “I don’t want to talk about time-travel shit because if we start, we’re going to be here all day, making diagrams with straws.” I love this movie quote because that is precisely what makes a good movie. Don’t tell us how time travel works, SHOW us. This story could have been bogged down with minutia but it isn’t because Johnson is a gifted filmmaker.
One thing moviegoers will ask themselves is, “What the heck happened to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face?” Prosthetics were used to make Gordon-Levitt look more like a younger Bruce Willis. Some may feel that the makeup job is unnecessary but my theory is that it was done to make the young star look more menacing as an assassin. It worked for me. There is an uncanny resemblance. Kudos goes to Gordon-Levitt for also having many of Willis’ mannerisms down pat. When you see young Joe take drugs (creatively administered in an eye droplet) and cruise to the night clubs in his red Miata (considered a cool vintage car), you really believe this guy is cool.
Director Johnson and Gordon-Levitt have worked together in the past. They worked together on Johnson’s first film called ‘Brick’ (2005). I highly recommend renting this indie film. It is a hard-boiled detective story set in high school. What I like about this film is that it shows off Gordon-Levitt’s acting potential. He keeps getting better in every film. There is also a love-interest in ‘Looper’ with the talented actress Emily Blunt. She is another actor that is one of my favorites. ‘Looper’ is a fun ride and now available on Blu-ray and DVD http://www.loopermovie.com/.