Directed by: Rian Johnson
Written by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt
While time travel is yet to be invented in 2044, a shady operation allows hit men to come face to face with targets from the future in Rian Johnson’s impressive third feature, Looper. Satisfying a range of expectations that cross sci fi, action, mystery and suspense borders, Looper pulls off a Gordon-Levitt-Willis partnership that would seem unlikely at first glance (especially since that first glance involves an eye-nose makeover for Gordon-Levitt that makes him look more Asian than Willis).
The premise sets itself up to be a mind-bending film – not unlike Inception, or even Johnson’s first film, Brick, where genre is toyed with to a compelling and creative end. The concept of time travel is in of itself something that we’ve come to associate with brain fuckery and confusion, so it’s no wonder that audiences might expect juicier intellectual stuff. But Johnson doesn’t give us this satisfaction. In a scene at a diner, Looper‘s protagonist, Joe (Gordon-Levitt), comes face to face with his future self (Willis)- 30 years older and determined not to be knocked off until he takes revenge for events he has experienced in the future. Older Joe tells young Joe that there’s no point in talking about the future. It will take too long, and it will get them nowhere. And with that, the topic of time travel is dropped. The more important themes that are attached to old Joe’s time travel are linked to his motivations: revenge, redemption, love.
This, however, doesn’t take away from Loopers capacity to be highly enjoyable on both action and conceptual levels. The performances by Gordon-Levitt, Willis, and Emily Blunt are slick and well-matched. The world Johnson creates have evocative details that don’t overwork the technological advancements of the future, but rather, emphasize a grungy, lawlessness that feels bitterly present and immediate. Basically, Johnson keeps it simple. The twist isn’t something to die for, but it wraps everything up in a nice “loop” that seems to cover most holes in the logic, and if we’re left with any questions, the film gives the impression that that was precisely what it set out to do.