Looper opened today. This was one of the most highly anticipated films of the fall season. I mean look at all it had going for it: the future, time travel, specialized assassins called loopers, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Jeff Daniels, sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, AND Emily Blunt.
If you saw the trailer you had to be hooked. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, you can see it at the conclusion of the review.
Okay here is the premise. We open and it is 2044. Big cities, and a lot of homeless folks. The usual dystopian future. Except that it still has a lot of what we have today. Sure, there are wheel-less motorcycles, and robot crop-dusters, but folks look and dress much like we do these days.
Our man with the gun is called Joe. This is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His job is that of an assassin. In the parlance of the times he is called a looper. By 2074 time travel has been invented and outlawed. So you simply can’t trot over to a ticket counter and say something silly like – give me two first class tickets to Diamond Head Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, September 28th, 2012.
What has happened is that the ‘criminal organization’ has the operative hardware for time-travel, and they use it to de-commission gangsters that are proving to be problematic in 2074. They zap them back to 2044, and when they come out of the space-time continuum, to a predetermined location, a looper is on the spot, ready to terminate them instantly, and then dispose of the body.
For the criminals in 2074 – it is the perfect solution. The problem goes away, and there’s no body to dispose of.
For the looper in 2044, their payment is usually in the form of silver ingots taped to the body of the soon-to-be-disposed gangster. They live the high life of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. But there is a catch – in 2074 and going forward – every loop will be required to be closed. In short, that means that the loopers themselves are sent back, as in they too are decommissioned. Only there’s no mothballs for these guys. It is a quick bullet to the heart followed by incineration.
Joe gets his marching orders and he is set up in a Kansas cornfield waiting for his next target to ‘drop’ in. He’s got his blunderbuss, a shotgun with an effective range of 15 feet at the ready, and his drop cloth is down on the ground. Only this time, the ‘victim’ isn’t hooded and manacled. What’s more, in a flash of recognition, Joe realizes that it is himself, sent back for termination from 30 years in the future. The future Joe is played by Bruce Willis.
Okay – that was kind of fast. First – don’t worry about the mechanics of the time travel. You won’t be shown how it works, and it won’t matter. Second – the usual aspects of time travel are that you when you go back – you can’t change stuff – because the whole future of everything could be impacted. At least that is what we’ve seen over the years.
But that was sort of undone by James Cameron’s The Terminator. In that one Ahnuld played the cyborg sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor who would become the mother of the future world leader, John Connor.
Okay now that I’ve mentioned The Terminator, put that thought on hold, and let’s get back to Looper. First, a few words from Young Joe: Loopers are well paid, they lead a good life… Time travel has not yet been invented. But thirty years from now, it will have been. When my organization from the future wants someone to die, they zap them back to me and I eliminate the target from the future. The only rule is: never let your target escape… even if your target is you.
Which ties in with the taglines for this movie:
- Hunted by your future. Haunted by your past.
- Face your past. Fight your future.
Needless to say, Older Joe (Willis) is not assassinated by Younger Joe (JGL). Now they both have to go into hiding – from each other as well as from the ‘mob’.
Watch for Jeff Daniels in an all too brief role, as Young Joe’s boss – sort of the ‘dispatcher’ for the looper assignments. He’s just great.
When they finally do reconnect – in a diner in the middle of nowhere. We learn that Old Joe has another agenda. We will call that simply some stuff that he wants to take care of to protect his wife. He wants to do away with someone who will grow up to be called The Rainmaker.
To simplify it – rather than tell it – to Old Joe, The Rainmaker, is similar to what Ahnuld’s cyborg was after.
Okay – that’s enough set-up. This was a film that played a lot of tricks with your head. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on things – some new stuff happens, and you sort of forget your questions. You aren’t sure who to root for. You are the both the hunter and the target. No matter how you slice it, it is a puzzle.
Sara – a fearless and brave Kansas farm woman played spectacularly by Emily Blunt [astoundingly – she’s lost all traces of her British accent for this role] incredulously asks Young Joe: You’re going to kill this guy, your own self?
But wait, there’s more – lot’s more. Telekinesis for one. Some guys in the film use it to score with chicks. But we will see far better uses for it. There’s also lots of surprises, plot twists, along with marvelous set-piece action sequences.
In fact – they didn’t spend gobs of money on special effects and set design. They didn’t do a lot to make JGL really look like Bruce Willis. No, what is rich about this film, is the way it was written, and they way the story unfolds before you. It just seems so very smart – without being the kind of clever that goes – gotcha! Big time kudos to Director/Writer Rian Johnson.
In short, this film should do very well at the box office. I’m calling it a must-see and giving at four point five rating.