Looper is, in short, an assassin.
The year is 2044 and, as we’re told, time travel doesn’t yet exist, but it will do in the future. 30 years from now, when someone wants to dispatch of a bad guy, they send them back through time to a specific point where one of the loopers will quickly dispatch of them with a blunderbus (What is this – Bugs Bunny?!)
For reasons not explained to us, Joe’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) location of choice is in a cornfield, forever on a well-cropped piece of land, right next to a completely uncropped piece. Either way, we see the benefits of such a job. You wait until the appropriate time, the bad guy appears, wearing a hood so as not to cloud your judgement, you instantly shoot him dead, then take off his jacket to collect the monetary wares stored within. Next, pick up the body, put him in your car and drop him off at the local incinerator. The beauty of it is, that in his own time where forensics have advanced to the point that makes killing someone impossible without getting found out, no-one will know what happened to the baddie, and in 2044, Joe’s burning a body that, technically, doesn’t exist. Win-Win!
Well, until the moment when a man appears (Bruce Willis) without a hood, and he looks up to reveal that he is Joe thirty years from now. It’s common knowledge that the major downside of being a Looper is that the time will come when you have to bump off your older self and, thus, close the loop. That way you will have made a bucketload of cash, lived a good life and can go to your grave relatively content. But, in this case, why isn’t the older Joe covered up like the rest?
In an element of confusion, the two clash and the younger Joe is left unconscious, giving the older one a chance to escape. However, this is 25 minutes into the film and, by then, we’ve already been privy to the dangerous consequences that ensue when a bad guy does a runner. Around this time, if you haven’t seen the trailer countless times already, you’ll just about be getting used to the CGI work done on Mr Gordon-Levitt’s eyes in every frame of every one of his scenes to make them look like that of Mr Willis, and it’s very cleverly done, too. In fact, it’s nice to see the effort made rather than have two actors playing father and son when they clearly look nothing like one another (or are twins like the original Beverley Hills 90210).
Looper is very clever in the way it features scenes where you see a moment played out one way, and then later it shows the same scene again but with an added twist. I really enjoyed this neat presentation as after the first time there followed a scene or two that didn’t initially make sense, but once you see the earlier scene replayed it all comes together perfectly. A very nice touch indeed.
When it comes to the cast, Bruce Willis is his usual reliable self, perhaps not as agile as he used to be, but when he needs to look mean and moody, he does it just right. Fans of his will also remember the earlier time-travel movie, Twelve Monkeys, which is better than this, but, at the same time, they are both very different films.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt also puts in a great turn as the bemused assassin, who also shows that, while financially rewarding, killing people can be a very lonely business, and as you work alone you’re only going to be inviting yourself to your Christmas party.
50 minutes in and British-totty-putting-on-an-American-twang Emily Blunt plays Sara, who lives in a big country-style house with her young son, Cid (Pierce Gagnon) and their story will be told when they appear – to go into detail now would be to give a spoiler. The only other character of note, without giving anything away if I was to explain about some of the rest, is Abe (Jeff Daniels), who was sent back from 2074 to run the operation.
Oh, and before Looper began, we saw a trailer for the new DVD release of a TV series I’ve heard I should be watching but just have never got round to seeing – Breaking Bad. I see the director of this, Rian Johnson, directed some episodes of that. And it indeed looked wonderful. So I shall make a point to catch up at some point. Just as soon as I get down with season 7 of Dexter. And season 2 of Homeland. And half-a-dozen other things I need to catch up on…
Also, ignore the stupid poster comment of “This decade’s Matrix“. There’s a scene involving lots of stuff moving about in a gravity-defying stylee, but that’s it. Who writes this bollocks?
Overall, Looper is a definite must-see, although there are periods where the pace is left to slacken and also where I was thinking, “When’s Bruce Willis coming back onscreen?”
The trailer looks like it’s going to give away too much, but then stops and just shows off a lot of the special FX instead.
Running time: 118 minutes
Released: September 28th 2012
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Viewed at: Odeon Cinema, Trafford Centre
Director: Rian Johnson
Producers: Ram Bergman and James D. Stern
Screenplay: Rian Johnson
Music: Nathan Johnson
Joe: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Old Joe: Bruce Willis
Sara: Emily Blunt
Seth: Paul Dano
Kid Blue: Noah Segan
Suzie: Piper Perabo
Abe: Jeff Daniels
Cid: Pierce Gagnon
Old Joe’s Wife: Summer Qing
Beatrix: Tracie Thoms
Old Seth: Frank Brennan
Jesse: Garret Dillahunt
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.