Looper is a film that makes me wonder. How easy is it for crime bosses to run something that takes place several years in the past, when they themselves inhabit a future where their actions are more closely monitored and more hopelessly outlawed than ever. Do they deem it wise to illegally use time travel to send people back in time to have their assassinations taken care of by assassins known as “loopers” in a safer time period without fearing this will rewrite the timeline? In Looper, what Doc Brown has told us doesn’t seem to apply.
Yeah, the rules of time travel in Looper have me a bit puzzled but the film itself is a fascinating and entertaining one, even though it starts out slow but escalates when reaching a certain plot twist I will get to (relatively spoiler-free) in a bit.
The story is centered around one of the aforementioned “loopers”, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who simply goes about his day and carries out murders for his employers, receiving a new victim from the future to take down on a field every day. It all goes fairly well until one day he is warned by his friend and fellow looper Seth (Paul Dano) that a new crime lord known as The Rainmaker has taken over in the future and that he is “closing all the loops”, meaning he sends the loopers’ future selves back in time for them to kill. And the reason he does this is… a reason.
And so comes the day when Joe goes out on the same field and his next victim is none other than himself from the future (played by Bruce Willis). Turns out Old Joe has fought off his captors in the future but still went back in time himself to track down the person who would eventually become the Rainmaker. Young Joe, refusing to fail his contract and get killed as a result, disagrees and tries to take down Old Joe, who escapes, and fulfill his contract. When Joe’s boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) find out that there is a future version of him roaming free, he tries to have the younger version killed. But the younger version hides in the home of a woman named Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son Cid. And this is where things start to get interesting.
I have failed to mention that time travel is not the only fantastical element in this film. The film also focuses on telekinieses, something that people in this world all know how to use, but cannot master on a great level. That is except for the teeny-weeny Cid, who, as it turns out, can almost make a house levitate if he’s really pissed off. When this plotline was set in motion, I questioned why we needed the time travel stuff in the same film.
The best part about the movie is the kid who plays Cid. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever seen better child acting on film before, especially when you consider the boy’s age. I know what a pain it is to try to make children act, which is why most filmmakers are adviced to never attempt it, so how this director managed to get a performance of this magnitude out of a child so young is outright baffling. We’re talking about an 8-year-old kid who steals the show in a movie starring Bruce Willis. That is not a small feat!
It wasn’t really until they introduced him and started focusing more on the B plot that the film got interesting. The A plot about the time travel and whatnot was a cool concept but I found myself questioning the movie’s time travel rules and I probably would’ve liked to see the Joes work together to escape the villains and team up after Old Joe is forced back through time. In the movie Old Joe goes back himself, specifically to find and kill the Rainmaker and his interactions with his younger self are limited.
My final complaint is probably the bad guys. Jeff Daniels is okay, but Noah Segan‘s character, a type of mercenary hired specifically to help “close loops”, struck me as bit of a crybaby (I also couldn’t take seriously how Henry from KaBlam! was now a vicious killer). But I still recommend Looper and hope that it is seen by many. If not for the cool effects, original story and thrilling action scenes, then it is worth seeing purely because of the performances. Director Rian Johnson must’ve promised little Pierce Gagnon quite a bit of candy for acting like that. Shivers.
This is definitely what Down In Front would refer to as a film with two magic beans.