This is the premise of Rian Johnson's Looper
(rated R), 2012's hit sci-fi thriller. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis leading a talented cast, what could go wrong? Only a little.
When I write these reviews, I always try to not only give my opinion, but to give you what everyone else says as well. As is normal with thrillers like Looper
, there are people who praised it as the most original movie of 2012. Others complained, saying that it had a silly and unbelievable plot. I would like to remind those who think this that this film is a sci-fi thriller, and by it's very nature is not going to be very realistic.
Some people however delved a little further and brought up some good points. One critic said that he enjoyed the film until it detoured from the plot that was being advertised in the trailers. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper who executes all of his target's that the crime lords in the future send him, until they send him his future self (Willis), in an attempt to "close his loop." Older Joe escapes from Younger Joe, and later reveals to him that in the future, there is a dictator known as the Rainmaker who is closing all the loops. The Rainmaker is also responsible for killing Older Joe's wife in the future, so Older Joe traveled through time to kill the Rainmaker, who is still only a young boy. This is probably really confusing to those who have not seen the film, so I will sum everything up with this question: what if you had the power to go back in time to killer Adolf Hitler as a young boy? What would you do? A question that has troubled many a philosophy student, but as far as I have seen never has hardly ever been dealt with in a movie before. Not to say there isn't some silliness; Looper
's plot did seem to stray once it got to the use of telekinesis.
So on top of the time traveling assassination element, people in the future also have telekinetic powers apparently. Only about ten percent of everyone has them, and even then most of them can only lift small metal objects the size of quarters. And out of these few, even less of them are truly exceptional, like Sid, a young boy who Young Joe finds living out on a farm with is mother, Sara (Emily Blunt). Sid can go as far as lifting up multiple pieces of furniture and imploding gats, the future's hired guns, who come prowling around. Oh yeah, if you fail to close your loop and "let him run," you are a wanted man for the rest of your life, which usually turns out to be pretty short once the police are on your back. So while Young Joe is hiding from the police out on Sara's farm, Older Joe is hunting down all of the children who were born on the day that the Rainmaker was born, his only link to finding the future dictator.
The film's subtext is a redemptive story for Joe, with both his present and future selves. Older Joe, after he closed his loop, went on to go to China where he worked as a mercenary and fed his hunger for eye-drop drugs, until he met a woman who he falls in love with. She helps him get his life back on track and live as an honest man, and for many years they live in peace until the Rainmaker begins closing all of the loops. And Sara begins to help Young Joe with his drug addiction as he begins to go through withdrawal, and it is obvious that if they had more time together, something more than friendship would show itself. Looper
takes a very unique stance on the time travel genre as well. In classic movies like Back to the Future
, the characters are all trying not to tamper with the past at all in order so that their futures are not changed when they return to their present. But with Rian Johnson's film, his characters see that by using their knowledge of the future, they can make decisions that will benefit the good of everyone. Young Joe sees this, as he watches his older self prepare to kill Sara while Sid is running away, safe from danger. He sees that all the events are coming full circle, or looping together, and that it is his responsibility to change this never-ending cycle from continuing. Instead of leaving the future to itself, he makes a radical decision to attempt to change it that has profound consequences. That's about as much as I can say without spoiling it.
The first time I saw Looper
, I was a little disappointed, but upon re-watching it I saw so much more in the characters and how the whole idea of sacrifice, redemption and redirection of a life was played with from the opening scenes all the way until the final moments of the story. Rian Johnson also decided to use as little CGI effects as possible, and uses wires and practical physical effects whenever possible, which was refreshing. I applaud him and all other directors who make this choice, because the industry relies so heavily on CGI that many films look like over-stylized cartoons. It is the use of practical effects that gave Looper
a gritty, realistic feel. Hollywood needs to make more films like these, that deliver great action spectacles as well as deep and believable characters coupled with great dialog. Johnson's terrific screenplay and direction brought to life this story of redemption and self-giving, while also crafting one of the most original sci-fi films of the decade, albeit having a few errors that I found easy to ignore.
There is strong language, a lot of violence, a very brief scene of nudity and a sex scene, unfortunately, which means I cannot give Looper
an uncritical recommendation. If I were to rate it solely on the plot and quality of the film itself, I would give it 3, but because of the gratuitous sex scene and momentary nudity, I give it 2.5 tiaras.Review by Goldenmouth