Set in a future world where the recession has devastated the country leaving high poverty and high crime, there is one job which still pays well, and that is a Looper. Looper’s work for a futuristic mob who send people they want to “off” 30 years back in time to be killed by Loopers, leaving no trace of a crime.
Closing a loop is when a Looper must kill his future self to, well, clean up any loose ends. The Looper is then given his golden payday and has 30 years in which to enjoy life knowing one day someone will come for him and he will be killed by his younger self. As Joe, the main protagonist, explains, Loopers tend to be shortsighted, spending their money with abandon, primarily on designer drugs.
Naturally, when older Joe (Bruce Willis) is captured and sent back in time to face younger Joe (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), things go horribly wrong.
But this is only a part of the story. Rather than turning into your standard chase movie, Looper takes a very different tactic. Older Joe decides to save his life, but not for the reasons you might think, instead he wants to prevent his wife from also getting killed. Somebody from the future, known as the Rainmaker, is closing loops, and Older Joe decides to go after the Rainmaker as a child.
Yes, it’s an idea clearly inspired by Terminator, but then Looper takes yet another turn when Young Joe meets Cid, the child Rainmaker. Living on a small farm with his mother (Emily Blunt) Cid is a smart but lonely child. I won’t give anything away, however I will say Paul Gagnon’s Cid is easily the creepiest performance by a child actor in the last twenty years.
In fact, all of the cast do an amazing job in Looper, especially its stars Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt does a surprisingly good job playing a young Bruce Willis, and has Willis’ mannerisms down pat. As for Bruce Willis, it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed one of his performances, but I think he did a great job in Looper and had a good rapport with Gordon-Levitt. If only he would do more genre movies. Another welcome sight was Jeff Daniels as Abe, a mob lackey sent back in time to organize the Loopers.
Director Rian Johnson creates a genuinely believable future world. The script is fast-paced for the most part, and truly funny, with lots of quotable lines (by the way, I highly recommend checking out Rian Johnson’s earlier high school-noir movie Brick). Not that the movie isn’t serious. In fact, it’s deadly serious. Looper depicts a violent world. It doesn’t whitewash the violence and, at least for me, you’re never entirely clear who you should be rooting for. That isn’t to say there aren’t some missteps in the script, because there are, as there usually is with time travel stories.
Despite this, Looper is still a genuinely satisfying time travel film, and I urge you to rush to the cinema and go see it.