In a world where Joseph Gordon-Levitt grows up to become Bruce Willis, it’s no surprise that time travel also exists.
Thirty years hence from Joe’s (Gordon-Levitt) 2044 exists a mob sending hits back in time to where a ‘Looper’ waits to assassinate them before disposing of a body that technically doesn’t exist. Seems pretty simple, right? The ultimate no-nonsense way of brutally murdering someone by means of a blunderbuss to the chest and then disposing of them with none of the mess? So it might seem. Except that thirty years from leaving a Looper contract it’s time for your loop to be closed – that is, essentially, being brutally murdered by yourself means of a blunderbuss to the chest. This has obviously worked relatively well for quite a while; one or two missing Loops eventually killed in a pretty fantastic fashion as revealed early in the film but of course there’s one thing the future-mob haven’t taken into account: Bruce Willis is the ultimate bad ass and Bruce Willis doesn’t take lightly to being murdered by himself and so when he shows up in a cornfield in 2044 he’s less than impressed.
Here begins the obligatory ‘would that really work?’ time travel questioning. My answer is yes. Because Rian Johnson wrote the film and he says so. We could spend the rest of our lives debating the exact mechanics of various devices, travel back in them and carry on arguing forever but if we did that we’d miss the rest of Looper, and Looper is very good. Suspend your disbelief, sit back, and prepare for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, only recently finding his inner badass in The Dark Knight Rises, to face off with the master.
Both Gordon-Levitt and Willis are on top form here and with an excellent script and supporting cast (in particular from Pierce Gagnon as young Cid) Looper makes for great viewing. Perhaps the film’s greatest success is that it’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen next, you think you’ve got a fair idea and suddenly someone throws a curveball to send you back to square one. Of particular note in this respect is an inability to definitively point out who falls on either side of the protagonist/antagonist divide. Sure, the film follows Gordon-Levitt and for all intents and purposes you might be able to call him the ‘good-guy’ – although that becomes difficult when you remember that he shoots people for a living and is now desperately hunting down his future self with the aim of wiping him off the face of the earth. So is it Willis? Probably not, since he’s the same person just older – he’s killed plenty of people and whatever he’s become since his retirement as a Looper (all revealed in an excellent sequence early on) is sort of out of the window now he’s on a little killing spree of his own in the past. Then there’s the mob that are trying to kill them both and the crime-lord to be who’s being hunted by Willis, yet they’re too minor in the grand scheme to really deserve the title. All in Looper is entertaining enough just to think about with so many of the usual lines blurred almost to nothing.
From time to time the film has a moment of hilarity and it’s difficult to be sure whether it’s a tongue-in-cheek moment or just a little bit of sloppy writing, but it doesn’t detract at all. I was tempted to complain that I found the ending slightly disappointing but as with the good guy/bad guy debate it does truly add something to the film even after you’ve left. I’m still debating it days later and a lasting impression like that isn’t often found. Check it out before it’s too late. You’ll want to mull this one over before the DVD drops.