Anthony's Film Review

Looper (2012)

An ingenious well-crafted sci-fi thriller about time travel, one that definitely plays with our minds...

Looper, I must admit, is one of the most creative time travel movies I've come across. It does what any good movie of this type should do - play around with paradoxes of past, present, and future - while still offering some very fresh plot premises. Certainly, Looper does not resort to familiar time travel elements, like going from present to past. Rather, it gives us a relatively new perspective, with a story that is set in the present and provides glimpses and hints about the future.

When I say "present," however, I'm not talking about the year 2012 when this movie came out, but rather 2044. Imagine a setting that has enough glitzy technology to define the future from now while still including many elements from our past and present. Imagine that time travel doesn't exist yet in 2044, but it will after a few decades from there. Now picture that, in the distant future, only criminal organizations have access to time travel technology. What could future mobsters and hitmen do with it? Well, how about sending would-be murder victims back in time to 2044 so that paid gunmen called loopers kill them and dispose their corpses? That way, the victims will never exist again in the future, essentially closing their time loop.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays one such looper in Kansas, a guy simply named Joe. His job involves standing at the edge of a farm field in front of a spread-out bedsheet. He glances at his pocket watch carefully and waits for his delivery. Then, when a would-be murder victim suddenly materializes onto the bedsheet, with his head covered and his arms died behind his back, Joe pulls the trigger. Then he removes silver bars from the dead body, which are his payment from the mob of the future.

For a while, we just see Joe do his work, get wasted with an eyedrop drug, and go about his life. It's actually fascinating to see, especially if you're into noir-type movies. But thankfully it doesn't go on too long, because one story twist pops out: a would-be murder victim manages to escape getting shot to death. On top of that, he reveals the frightful vision of the future, when a ruthless mobster called the Rainmaker wreaks terror and even works to put an end to time transport, which would put the loopers out of work. This is according to a fellow looper named Seth, played by Paul Dano. Soon, Joe faces the same kind of situation, with a would-be murder victim who is nothing more than Joe the looper, 30 years older.

After a brief escape, Bruce Willis, as old Joe, soon visits young Joe in a cafe and reveals what he intends to do. This is a memorable scene for several reasons. One, we get to see two equally tough guys, played by two equally fine actors. Two, we are constantly wondering whether these two men will come together, given that they are the same person, or take different paths, given that each one can still think independently. Speaking of that, here's the third reason for this scene being key. In one of the film's most creative ideas, old Joe explains that any new memories formed by young Joe also form in old Joe's head. For better or for worse, old Joe can literally read the mind of young Joe and know many of his moves.

While old Joe proceeds with his mission and gunmen from the future are in pursuit to capture or kill him, young Joe stays quiet near a farm, because he already knows what might happen and is preparing for it. During his wait, he meets two characters, a woman named Sara, played by Emily Blunt, and her 10-year-old son Cid. These two characters seem like relatively less important characters at first, but as much of the second half of the movie devotes time to revealing who they are, one cannot help but appreciate how well the movie develops those characters and tie them in with the main story. As a result, both halves of the movie are equally engaging.

Perhaps the best part of Looper are the moral and philosophical questions that come up. While it's not so deep that people will notice many themes presented, the ones that do stand out are still thought-provoking. For example (and hopefully, I'm not giving away any plot elements), how far can one go in altering the past to change the future? Does the end justify the means? Should other people ever be considered less valuable than you, no matter who they are? And most importantly, are good and evil the ultimate loopers of mankind, churning more of themselves when left unchecked?

With all of this plus exciting moments of action, Looper is a smart, must-see sci-fi flick. It manages to get the audience to think without being overly confusing, present fine performances by its stars, and provide a mysterious setting to stimulate our imaginations. I ended up liking it much more than I expected, and I'm glad that some minds in Hollywood haven't lost their creative touch. Among time travel movies, Looper certainly stands out.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Looper, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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