Monday, October 15, 2012
Looper - 118m - R
by C. L. Cadwallader
Several months ago, I saw a teaser trailer for an upcoming Science Fiction film. It looked like a low-budget film from a writer/director I had never heard of, a young actor I was only mildly familiar with, and maybe an appearance by Bruce Willis. I thought it looked like an interesting concept, but I kind of forgot about it after seeing the first teaser trailer.
The movie was, of course, "Looper." The young actor was Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who I look forward to seeing more of, and the appearance by Bruce Willis was an action-packed co-starring role. "Looper" is a rare breed: a thought-provoking action movie with a tight script, great acting and white-knuckle tension that you will be talking about for days afterward. On the Fat Samurai scale, this one gets an enthusiastic green light.
The movie takes place in the near future. The society in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Joe has grown up is a sad, dangerous, dirty place. He is a man without a future, but he doesn't care. The future is tomorrow. Today, he is one of a group of highly paid assassins called Loopers. They are paid by the mafia lords of the future to kill people sent back in time from thirty years in the future. They murder hooded victims by day and party all night. The name Looper comes from their final task, their big payday – they kill their own future selves, "close the loop" and retire. When it comes Joe's turn to close his loop, things do not go smoothly. Old Joe, in the form of Bruce Willis, escapes and things get complicated.
Another director might have used old person make-up and cast Gordon-Levitt in a dual role, or CGI and tried to use Willis for both parts, but either of those would have been obviously fake (see "Tron Legacy" or anything where they try to make a young person look old.). Having two actors playing the role might have been a risk, but it works fantastically in this movie. Gordon-Levitt had the help of contact lenses and some prosthetic make-up to look a bit like a young Bruce Willis, but what really sold it were his mannerisms. He has obviously studied Willis. He moves like him, and even smirks like him when being lectured by his boss (Jeff Daniels).
My advice to viewers is not to analyze the time travel premise too closely before the end of the movie. It needs no more analysis than the premise that the best plan a race of intelligent machines can come up with is to send an assassin back in time to kill the rebel leader's mother – for four movies. Just accept it as fact and watch the movie from there. It's not the time travel that makes the film. It's the characters and the richly drawn but thoroughly disturbing world they inhabit that make the move everything it is. "Looper" is one of those films you should just watch and enjoy. Then go back to the beginning and do it again.