Looper Movie Review

Time travel is always a tricky topic that almost always falls victim to plot holes and added questions, usually relegating the sci-fi film to campy fun or irritating frustration.  LOOPER manages to beat the odds and deliver an original high concept film that is both smart and entertaining led by an amazing performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper

 In 2044, time travel has not yet been invented.  But thirty years later in 2074, it will be.  Highly illegal, the time travel technology is only used by the future mob who send back their unwanted targets to be killed.  Disposing the bodies are hired hitmen called “Loopers.”   Managing the loopers is Abe (Jeff Daniels), a crime boss sent back from the future who has created a successful operation for himself.  The hired loopers are supplied with a designated weapon, time and location.  When their cuffed and hooded victims appear, the target is immediately eliminated and body disposed.  Strapped to the victim is their payment in silver, until that one fateful day where the looper opens up the payment on the murdered body to find their payment in gold.  This means they have just killed their future selves and they may now retire to live the rest of their limited life using the money they’ve earned.  This is called closing the loop, protecting the mob from their illegal activity being exposed.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper

 The key to time travel films is setting up the rules properly and then following them accordingly.  LOOPER does a fabulous job captivating the audience with an interesting premise then adding multiple layers.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Joe Simmons, a Looper who finds himself face to face with his older self (Bruce Willis).  In a moment of hesitation the older Joe is able to get the upper hand and escape.  In a mind blowing sequence, director Rian Johnson cleverly splices together a visual explanation of a older Joe appearing before younger Joe who in turns transitions into older Joe and returning once again to younger Joe to be killed.  It may take a minute to wrap your head around what is being shown but it brilliantly sets the stage, dispelling those pesky questions that otherwise may linger and distract from the telling of the story.  From here, LOOPER takes on a whole new life with intricate details, surprising twists, rich characters and much bigger themes.

Jeff Daniels in Looper

Emily Blunt turns in another great performance as a reclusive Kansas farmer raising her peculiar little boy Sid, played from cute to creepy perfection by young Pierce Gagnon.  Willis is at ease in usual action star form, while  Daniels and Paul Dano remind us that we don’t see near enough of them on the big screen.  The show stopper is Joseph Gordon-Levitt who commands the screen as our flawed hero.  While the nose prosthetics and makeup don’t necessarily give Gordon-Levitt the Willis look, it does give him a harder edge, proper for his tough demeanor and conflicted character.  Plus, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has the talent to pull off subtle mannerisms and facial expressions that we have all come to know and love from Bruce Willis.

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper

Not only is LOOPER a mature and exciting action film, but it has dramatic emotional depth.  Changing in style, direction and rhythm, the film takes unexpected turns. Nearly every frame is captivating for a variety of reasons and I highly recommend LOOPER for any fan of science fiction, story telling and great acting.

OVERALL 3.5
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