Looper - An Incredibly Ambitious, Well-executed Sci-fi Thriller

                         Time travel has always been a fantasy subject and, as such, is content only to the rules imposed upon it by a writer. Most of the movies and its makers fall back to cliches don't spend a lot of time carefully considering the implications of paradoxes. This is not the case with Rian Johnson’s whip-smart and twisty sci-fi thriller “Looper.’’ Similar to the films of Christopher Nolan, Looper is grounded on a clever, instantly memorable premise and then proceeds to take us into completely unexpected directions. Devoid of loose ends, this thinking man's thriller marshals action, romance and a dose of very dark comedy toward a stunning payoff. 

        The year is 2044 and the action unfolds in Kansas, USA. In the dystopian future, the cities are bigger and dirtier, the criminal elements are powerful, but they do not have the oppressive power they will obtain 30 years in the future. Time travel will be achieved in the year 2074, and will be also quickly outlawed, although it is still used in secret by criminal organizations to assassinate people. In 2044 where men known as “loopers” stand ready with arms in a preset location at a particular time and await the arrival of a victim—bound and gagged and covered by a hood—sent back from the future to be shot and disposed of. 

               Our hero is a looper named Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt),  a poised and detached killer, one of the best in the small stable run by Abe (Jeff Daniels). "Taking out the future's garbage" is how the unemotional Joe thinks about it. One of the twists of this profession  is that it is mandated that, at some point, you will end up unknowingly shooting the future version of yourself, an act called "closing your loop." Then that guy will get a big payoff in gold bars and go off to enjoy the last 30 years of his life. One day, Joe makes the mistake of holding a friend (Paul Dano) who has screwed up his mission.  After that  he is given an assignment that puts him face-to-face with his future self (Bruce Willis), who arrives to the past without a hood. Joe hesitates a moment to kill and old Joe knocks him down to escape.

               The mistake makes him the target of his own gang and unless he corrects things quickly, he will end up dead not just in the future, but in the present as well. Younger and older Joe might be technically the same men, but the difference in age means that Joe and his older self have different dreams, different goals for their lives. Sooner younger Joe refuges himself in a remote farmhouse where a huffy young woman named Sara (Emily Blunt) lives with her 10 year old boy Cid (Pierce Gagnon). After that, the movie opens up differently and young Joe finds himself with an even bigger problem. 

                 The always marvelous Gordon-Levitt wearing prosthetic makeup to make his face take on an at least slight resemblance to Willis, is not really necessary, but his performance as an actor has been growing with each new character. Looper is no exception. Despite his role of a cold-blooded assassin, we begin develop a connection with him as the seeds of something more noble begin to grow. Bruce Willis as older Joe has a small part but he  is able to blend toughness, tenderness and humor in ways that elude most of his peers. Looper has also many supporting performances, that vary from few scenes (Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo) to a significant chunk of the running length (Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon). They all do a stupendous job with their characters and there's not a poor performance to be found. 

                  Director Rian Johnson made a good debut seven years ago with the high-school crime/noir “Brick’’ starring Gordon-Levitt and then made a self-conscious con-man comedy "Brothers Bloom." “Looper” is his chance for a big time movie and  makes it all his own. His style is definitely eye-catching, but is always grounded in plot and character; anything that might seem excessive is ultimately justified (with the possible exception of Bruce Willis’s machine-gun rampage). There are better ways to dispose of a body, and in the future, if you give it a second’s thought, you’ll come up with them. Still, with his setup, Johnson pedals furiously and largely successfully to keep our disbelief from crashing to the ground.

                    Looper is a good film because all the elements are well done. It has a intelligent script which keeps up your interest and the characters are well-rounded and portrayed powerfully. "Looper" takes us far beyond the film’s high-concept premise into the kind of emotional terrain that often escapes even the best genre films. It entertains as well as enriches a viewer. 


Looper - IMDb 


Mithil said...

I was taken aback by the the trailer when I saw it in early 2012. I then made a promise not to miss it. Here's my review http://wp.me/p2qUmP-3z

Arun Kumar said...

@Mithil, Thanks for the comment. Will check out your review.

Deepz said...

Very interesting plot. I'm going to grab a dvd if its out..:)

Arun Kumar said...

@Deepz, Thanks for the comment and do watch the movie.