Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper, a specialised assassin, who shoots people that are sent back in time by the mob. Joe lives in 2044 Kansas where time travel has not yet been invented and the landscape is not so unfamiliar to our own reality. The mob, who live in 2074, use time travel, which was made illegal almost immediately after it was invented, as a means to get rid of anyone that has caused them a nuisance, as in 2074 it would seem that it is impossible to simply dispose of a body. To solve this the mob have acquired a time travel machine in which the targets are sent back to 2044 where loopers await their arrival and are ready to dispose of the body once they have shot it and collected their silver, which is strapped to the back of the target. However, there is a catch, upon agreeing to the contract as a looper you also agree that when your contract is ended by the mob you must shoot your future self. Joe comes face to face with himself, in the form of Bruce Willis who has his own agenda, but lets him get away. Joe becomes his own worst enemy and must start the tricky task of hunting down his own future self.
Looper is an intelligent sci-fi thriller that manages to keep the audience thinking without over complicating the narrative and distancing the audience from the action. The questions and holes that cannot help but be opened by these futuristic time travelling films, concerning the logical impossibilities about what is happening and the connection between the two realities, are quickly quashed by Bruce Willis slamming his fist on the table in the diner telling the 2044 Joe to shut- up and not worry about the technicalities of all of this, but also seems enough to encourage the audience not to ask any questions and to simply focus on the narrative that is unfolding in front of them. There is often a fine line between breaking the 4th wall and retaining some sense of coherence to what is unfolding on screen and Looper seems to cover this aspect of time travel very well despite not explaining everything.
Set in 2044 and 2074, director Rian Johnson presents this futuristic reality to the viewer as a reality that is not unlike the one we all know. The future is presented to us as a future that is very possible, making the narrative feel more grounded in our sense of reality, unlike the futuristic portrayal given to us in Total Recall last month. The time aspect of this film raises questions around memory and personhood, much like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, such as the idea that it is our memories that define who we are and who we become, as our past is constantly pushing onto our present, which is constantly becoming the past, but it is our future that is unknown. It is this idea that makes the narrative so intriguing as it becomes unclear who to root for. We are given ample reasons for the actions that our protagonists take, yet we still want to believe that the characters committing morally questionable actions are in fact doing it for reasons that we can understand. This film offers an interesting turn of events that will leave the audience questioning their own morals; what they would kill for and what they believe life’s worth is.
Looper is a deeply entertaining and thrilling film that will blow your mind. The cast delivers fantastic performances all-round including; Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels, but in particular Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s impersonation of Bruce Willis’ younger self is phenomenal. With an obvious amount of time spent in make-up before the shoot Gordon-Levitt looks the part, with a new nose and new upper lip, but it is the mannerisms and characteristics that Gordon-Levitt emits on screen that lead to an absolutely fantastic impersonation. With an already successful year in film, with his role in The Dark Knight Rises and Premium Rush, it would seem that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has become a top class actor and if he hasn’t already reached his best then we can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us.
With the eerie silence that falls upon this film, only to be filled by the tick-tocking of Gordon Levitt’s pocket watch, Looper is a futuristic sci-fi that is sure to thrill and leave you stunned, wanting to watch more.
This is one film that closes all the loops.
Written by Shirley Welton (@shirley_welton), who also blogs at Beyond the Edges of the Frame.