When you think of all the potential benefits of time travel – going back to avoid catastrophes, make smarter investments, inform your younger self that the dreamboat you’ve been crying over is totally not worth it – using it to dispose of bodies doesn’t automatically spring to mind, but that is indeed the concept behind Rian Johnson’s “Looper”.
In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits, also known as a Looper. It’s good money for not much work (one shot is all it takes, and the victims are blindfolded, so, you know, don’t even have to look them in the eye). The drawback to this sweet gig is that one day the mob will “close the loop”, which means the last task for a Looper is to kill their future self. From here they receive a big ‘severence’ payment, and 30 years to spend it. “This isn’t an industry that attracts people who think long term” says young Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt).
The action takes place largely in the year 2042, where the future is already pretty bleak, and the more heartless you are the more successful you become it would seem. Joe lives a routine existence of killing, clubbing, and tripping, yearning for his favourite prostitute (Piper Perabo), when it becomes time to for his loop to close. His older self (Bruce Willis) is not so keen for it end this way, and body slams his way out of it, turning both Joe’s into fugitives, and leading young Joe to a farm in the middle of nowhere where he encounters the lovely Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son.
There are a lot of great things about this movie, from the original concept, to the vision of the future, to the performances all around. The way Joseph Gordon Levitt resembles a young Bruce Willis is uncanny, and a little freaky to be honest, and Emily Blunt nails her tough but vulnerable mother role (and American accent. P.S. How is she always so damn likeable?).
While mascerading as an action film, they are not afraid to tackle some pretty big ideas, namely how little we are able to think ahead and prepare for future generations, how self absorbed and invincible we feel in our youth (“It’s going to happen to YOU, it’s not going to happen to ME!” young Joe yells to older Joe), and the experiences in our lives that set us on our path. The overriding theme of the film is how much we should strive to see the good in each other, no matter how dire the circumstances, and in this age of terrorism, war and revolts, it is a good reminder.
This is an original and incredible film, and will end up on many top 10 lists for films of the year.