Director: Rian Johnson
MPAA Rating: R
The art of the time travel film has always been something of a mixed bag. It’s a very tricky subject to get right without having a million little plot holes and paradoxes that cause the viewer to go insane with confusion. In the case of Looper however, writer/director Rian Johnson not only explores this subject with meticulous precision, but also adds in an incredible, and more importantly, original story.
The film sets itself up with a fairly simple concept. In the future, time travel gets invented and quickly becomes outlawed. Crime syndicates then take control of the technology and use it to dispose of bodies because of the difficulty to do so in the future. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Joe, a hitman known as a Looper, who is tasked with dispatching anyone sent back to his time from the future.
This is a fairly straightforward concept until one day Joe is tasked with killing himself, from the future. Future Joe is played by Bruce Willis, and travels back in time to stop something terrible from happening in his reality. Past Joe botches his assassination attempt and the chase is on.
Looper is an interesting movie to think about from a plot perspective, mainly because Rian Johnson is somehow able to make this time travel business relatively easy to grasp without dumbing it down for the audience. It’s a smart film, and it doesn’t demean itself by insulting our intelligence. It relies on superb storytelling to get us through, and it succeeds on every level. It’s a plot that you can walk away from, take it for face value, and just enjoy the ride. It’s also a plot that you can think about, analyze and dissect, and contemplate over it’s deeper meanings.
Visually, Looper knocks it out of the park with superb visuals, beautiful but not overused slow motion, and great camera work. Most of the film takes place in 2044, and although it looks much like the world we live in now, there are slight differences, mainly with technology. It’s a realistic future; more people are using solar powered machinery, computers and phones look way cooler, and yes, there are flying vehicles. It’s just enough sci-fi to keep things interesting, while making us think this could be something we’ll see within the next 2 decades.
Performance-wise, in addition to Willis and Levitt, the film also stars Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, and Pierce Gagnon, who does an incredible job for being such a young age. While everyone put out great performances, the highlight would obviously be Levitt playing a young Bruce Willis. Not only did they make him look more like Willis, but he was able to pull in his mannerisms and even his speech patterns in order to really sell us on the fact that they were the same person.
Many people are saying that Looper is a modern classic, the best science fiction film since Bladerunner. While I would love to say that’s true, I think only time will dictate how iconic and influential this film will become. What I can say with certainty is that Looper is one of the most entertaining, well-crafted films I’ve seen this year, and in my book, it is an instant genre classic.