When it comes to the typical conversation on the subject of time travel, you can bet your bottom dollar that two questions will invariably come up. 1) What would you do/say if you met your past self? And 2) if you travelled back far enough would you kill Hitler/Mussolini/Nicki Minaj when they were a baby? Looper takes those concepts and runs with them, an attitude that was just one of the shopping list of reasons why it was one of my favourite films of 2012.
Looper starts by explaining what the goddamn hell a “looper” actually is. Y’see in the future, they’ve invented time travel. Problem is, it becomes immediately outlawed for understandable “people suck and/or are dumb reasons” so only the biggest mobsters and organised crime syndicates have access to it. Apparently, it’s tough to dump a body in future times so loopers like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) hang around at a predetermined place and time and wait until a sacked and tied person is pinged back from the future and blow them away, disposing of the body in the less Big Brother like past. After their contract is up, loopers are tasked to kill their older selves in the same way- in return, they receive a big final payday and live out the next 30 years in peace. Trouble starts when Old Joe (Bruce Willis) is sent back and manages to escape Young Joe’s clutches leading to a whole host of timey-wimey headfucks and causing a lot of angry people with guns trying to chase down and kill both Joes.
I’m glad I’m not the official DVD blurb writer for this film. Even typing that summary was starting to make my head hurt. I’ve probably made it sound hella-confusing. However, my difficulty explaining the central conceit reinforces what a fantastic job Looper does of keeping things comprehensive and uncluttered. There’s a very annoying trend on the Internet of late where films are clinically dissected and analysed from every angle before being snarkily judged as “unrealistic” or “megashit” and left to fester on some neckbeard’s Blogspot page. Looper wins massive points from me for practically flat-out telling the audience to not concern themselves with the details, shut the hell up and enjoy the ride. In a brilliant diner scene where Old and Young Joe first properly meet, Willis deadpans to JGL: “I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.” You’ve got to respect a film that does something like that. I would go more into the story and some of my favourite scenes, but I feel it’s better that you go in blind to some of the tricks Looper’s got up its sleeve.
Both Joes are fantastic. Joseph Gordon-Levitt nails the trademark Willis swagger and squint, but he doesn’t just imitate. He proves he’s one of the best movie stars around with his performance here. His acting chops coupled with his prosthetic ones (to give him more of a Brucey jawline) add up to a very convincing younger version of Willis. How about actual Bruce Willis? He’s great too. His version of Joe owes a lot to John McClane and it works. Nobody’s better at playing the tough-as-hell, sarcastic everyman like Willis. Emily Blunt also gives a fantastic performance as the tough but vulnerable Sara- an earnest, loving mother who will do anything to protect her child. It’s great to see Jeff Daniels again and Paul Dano pops up to do the whiny bitch routine he’s got down to a fine art. That may sound like a slight against Dano, but he’s a joy to watch in every film he’s in.
The film is a kinetic blend of all sorts of genres, the main two being sci-fi and noir. The trailer below may make it look like a big ol’ boomfest with gunfights, special effects and explosions, but those are just dressing for a compelling story that draws you in and keeps you riveted until the end credits. Do yourself a favour: see this film if you haven’t already.
Release Date:28th September 2012 (UK)
Directd By: Rian Johnson
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis , Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels
Buy Looper:Blu-ray / DVD / Steelbook (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]