A loopy, trippy mind-bender
“Looper” is a loopy, mind-bending action pic that combines a trippy time travel premise with some thought-provoking science-fiction thrills. The key to enjoying the occasionally gruesome violence mixed with a healthy potion of emotional depth rarely found in this genre is to not dwell on the fiction in the science.
“Looper” creates its own time paradox rules which normally is a deal breaker. But director-writer Rian Johnson deserves a lot of credit for ramping up the compelling, twisty, ever-developing plotlines to the point where congruity matters less than our concern for the characters themselves.
Set in a grungy urban area circa 2044, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt is Joe, a drugged-out underachiever who has found purpose as a “Looper,” a hired assassin who kills criminals from 30 years in the future. (Here’s where the time travel part comes in.) A megalomaniac from said future is killing off all the loopers –“closing their contracts”—and sending them back to be terminated by their younger self. Joe’s mirror-imaged older version is played with typical charisma by Bruce Willis. Much has been made of the visage-altering make-up and prosthetics used to give Gordon-Leavitt a similar appearance to Willis, but it often serves, while effective, as a distraction. It might be appropriate to ask why movies about the future seem to always imply mass decay and apocalyptic destruction?
Without revealing too much of the plot, it’s safe to say that when the story leaves the dirty city and younger Joe flees to a rural sugarcane farm run by a single mother (Emily Blunt) and her young child (Pierce Gagnon), this thriller really takes flight. Blunt is eminently endearing and Gagnon’s smart, weird, utterly scary performance practically steals the show. Jeff Daniels as the witty, ruthless crime boss Abe is perfect.
Like most time travel films, the end leads to some questions about plot inaccuracies and unexplained occurrences. Unlike most films in this genre, “Looper” is smart enough to convince you that you don’t need to know all the answers in order to be entertained.
Rated “R” for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content