Are people still whining and complaining about the lack of original and unique movies in the cinema marketplace? Because last I checked, there are still some great, original, incredible films being released pretty often, and in “Looper” we have another fantastic piece of evidence that would suggest creativity is not dead but instead is still thriving in our filmmakers.
“Looper” is a sci-fi movie about specialized assassins in an economically devastated 2044 America making their money by killing people sent to them from the future. You see, time travel gets invented in far future, and it’s immediately outlawed, but crime syndicates use the illegal time travel to send their victim back to 2044 to get whacked and disposed of. These assassins are called Loopers, and they do this for payments in silver, except for their final job, in which they get paid in gold. The reason for the large payout? Their final job is usually their future self, sent back to be killed and disposed of, since the crime syndicates don’t want any link to this highly illegal multidimensional operation.
So when Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Premium Rush, The Dark Knight Rises, 50/50), a drug addicted, living for the moment Looper, comes faces to face with his older self (Bruce Willis, The Expendables 2, Moonrise Kingdom, Red), he doesn’t pull the trigger as quickly as he should, his older self gets away, and he has to go find him and track him down before the mob who hired him decides to simply kill them both.
It’s a great, smart set up, and though a little complex, all of the information is nicely dispersed throughout the beginning of the film, and it’s all aided with a little bit of hard-boiled narration from Gordon-Levitt, who is doing his best Willis-style smirking and smart ass reactions throughout the movie. So they successfully set up the rules of this world, and then they told a tight, intricate story within this world, an exciting story loaded with moral complexities and smart character development.
As the sci-fi premise and interesting set up gets the wheels in motion nicely, it is really all about the characters and their different goals and motivations. Without this stuff, we’d just have another boring, sci-fi flavored chase movie, but because this film has more on it’s mind than just dumb action, it all resonates, all the way through to the very end. Young Joe and Old Joe are very different people (thirty years of age and experience will do that to a person) and they have very different goals and hopes for their respective futures (as one of them is stares his future right in the face), and in order to get what they want, they have to get the other one out of the way.
And what makes these goals and motivations so riveting is the fact that these characters get dragged through some moral quagmires, conundrums about sacrifice and the “greater good” and whatnot. Instead of taking the easy way out and showing good characters attempting to do good things, we have morally ambiguous people and people seeking redemption contemplating doing terrible deeds in order to accomplish a larger, greater task, one that is indeed for the greater good, and these decisions get heavy and weigh on the characters. It’s because these dramatic stakes are raised so much that there is reason to have emotional investment in them, and that these goals are based on simple desires, like the love of a wife or a promise of a better future, makes them universally appealing and relatable.
“Looper” is a wonderful movie, proof that originality does still exist and is alive and well, and it is also very refreshing to see a film such as this end in such a definitive way, resistant to sequels or prequels or any sort of franchising. The franchise is the writer/director Rian Johnson, and he is the sort of person the future of filmmaking should be entrusted with, he is the type of franchise that needs to be nurtured, so hopefully while we won’t get any more “Looper” movies diluting that particular brand, we will get plenty of movies like “Looper” in terms of quality and imagination from Rian Johnson, which would strengthen his own brand, and would continue making him one of the better directors out there right now worth watching.
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