"Looper" offers a glimpse into a complex and suspenseful future

Carolyn Williams

Rian Johnson’s latest movie “Looper” is an unusual take on the classic time travel motif. Dark, and uncomfortably more believable than many others of its predecessors, “Looper” is guaranteed to spark conversation.

In 2044, things are not going so well. Poverty and crime rates are higher than normal, and the general attitude towards life seems bleak, but other than that, this close future is pretty plausible. Our hero, Young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), reveals that 30 years into his own future, 2074, time travel has been invented, but was immediately outlawed. However, future gangs abuse the illegal transportation system to dispose of their victims. They send back their enemies to pre-designated spots where current hitmen are waiting to shoot them. These hitmen, or “loopers,” are well paid, but the work has a heavy price. Every looper must eventually “close his loop,” or kill his own future self, then try to enjoy the next 30 years, knowing exactly what’s coming for him later on. Young Joe himself is a looper.

So when Young Joe finds himself faced with the prospect of his own murder, he hesitates, creating an opportunity for Old Joe (Bruce Willis) to escape. Next follows the requisite “what happens in my future?” scene, where the pair stare at their past and future selves, but it’s not as silly as in some other films–the antagonism between the pair outweighs Young Joe’s natural curiosity, and Old Joe’s disdain for his former life is palpable.

Young Joe knows that if he doesn’t succeed in closing his loop, he will be killed immediately, but Old Joe comes back with a mission. He reveals that his future wife was killed because of his past, and that if he is able to kill the unknown person responsible now, while that person is a child, he’ll stop it all from happening and return to the future and his wife. Young Joe gets in his way, though. Along the way, Young Joe meets a young mother named Sara (Emily Blunt), and learns that her child is part of Old Joe’s hit list. As Young Joe attempts to piece together the best plan of action, the current crime ring starts looking for him as a fugitive, and all of this comes to a dramatic and unexpected head with the film’s ending.

It’s evident immediately that “Looper” is trying to emulate science fiction cult movies like “The Matrix.” Johnson and Gordon-Levitt have worked together before, in “Brick,” but this has none of its predecessor’s film noir style. This is all Hollywood, from the big fight sequences and explosions to Gordon-Levitt’s prosthetic face makeup so that he and Willis look remotely alike. The supporting cast is very solid, with a corrupt Jeff Daniels and a small part for Paul Dano, but overall, the film doesn’t quite deliver. Critics and fans’ opinions were mixed.

“‘Looper’ is a gritty, cold, suspenseful thriller that isn’t for the faint of heart. If ‘Looper’ offers a peak into the future, I think I’ll keep my eyes shut,” moviegoer Mike Williams said.

The film is definitely unusual and gets its audience thinking, but if one thinks about it too much, “Looper” might have a few loopholes too many.

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