Summer is over, and it’s too bad, because if I had to pick summers best science fiction film, LOOPER would be it. Being a fan of sci-fi, Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I went in with high expectations. Lucky for me, Looper is intelligent, intense, and full of action.
It’s the year 2042, a 25-year-old junkie/criminal named Joseph Simmons (Gordon-Levitt) works for the mob as an assassin, also known as a “Loopers”. Fast forward 30-year and time travel is possible, but it’s controlled by a powerful mob boss known as “Rainmaker”. The Rainmaker sends his enemies back in time to have them taken out by Loopers, whom then dispose of the bodies and cover up any loose ends.
Sometimes things don’t go to plan and future versions of Loopers themselves show up to be “disposed of”. This is known as “closing your own loop.” When Simmons recognizes his target as a future version of himself, he hesitates and his older self (Bruce Willis) escapes after incapacitating him. The failure of his job causes his employers to come after Gordon Levitt, forcing him to fight for his life as he hunts his older self.
The chemistry between Gordon-Levitt and Willis worked perfectly. One of their best scenes is when the two versions of themselves have a sit down conversation at a diner. The dialogue over steak and eggs was brilliant — it was darkly funny and a masterful way to unfold the more complex elements of the plot without actually saying much. One of the biggest concerns I had with Looper, was wondering how the film would play out its “Space time continuum” explanation on time-travel. Usually when you have a story based around time-travel it falls a part because of all the “loop holes” (no pun intended), but Looper worked around this, cheesy, yet effectively. Willis warned his younger self (and the audience) not to worry about plot logistics and paradoxes, saying — “We’ll only end up drawing diagrams on the table with straws.” — Which was a cheap and easy way of telling us – just go with it.
Still despite the story logistics, it always comes down to acting, and with two veteran actors, it was solid throughout. Willis delivers one of his most sincere and committed performances I’ve seen from him in a long time. He balances out his character; he’s dark like a seasoned killer, but he is also witty and optimistic. There is still enough action in the film for Willis to flex his action-star muscles, but it’s his acting performance that’s even more appealing.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was excellent as usual. Showing exactly why he went on to become one of America’s finest actors. Wearing coloured contact and a facial prosthetic, he does a great job diving into character, not only acting as a killer, but mimicking Willis who plays his older self. Although they play the same person, decades of life experience have separated their mindset and goals. The Willis version of the character wants to stop Rainmaker when he’s just a young boy so that he may enjoy the happy life (which makes sense to me). However, the Gordon-Levitt version is so selfish, he simply doesn’t care — he just wants the older version of himself to die so he can move on.
Support roles from Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels were solid, but it’s Emily Blunt’s tough yet emotionally fragile Sara that really surprised me. Blunt plays a single mother seeking refuge from the city and living on a farm with her strikingly gifted young son (Pierce Gagnon). Her story added another emotional layer to the film, but unfortunately slows the film down a bit. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; but what could easily have been a redundant love interest wound up being one of the most interesting elements of the film, altering the dynamic from gun-toting shoot-’em-up to something on a different level.
If you are one of those people who try to point out every scientific fact on how time-travel works, stay clear of Looper, it will drive you crazy — but if you are a fan of science fiction and action films – Looper has it all. When the time for talk was over, Looper was able to back it up in action with many shoot-outs, chases, and situations that instilled a real sense of danger, which is why I give “Looper” a 7/10.
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“Looper,” is rated R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content. Running time: 119 minutes. In theatres everywhere September 28, 2012.