By Lori Vetrano
Time travel, guns and Joseph Gordon-Levitt: just three of the many reasons to watch “Looper,” one of this month’s hottest films at the box office. With a likeable cast and intricate storyline, Looper will keep you on the edge of your seat during the entire two hours of intense, action-packed madness.
Set in 2042, the movie revolves around Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Joe, a professional assassin known as a looper. Loopers are hired by the mob to kill their targets by utilizing time travel: the mob sends a person back in time to an exact moment in an exact place, and the looper waits there to shoot the target.
When the mob wants to end the looper’s contract, it simply sends his future self of 30 years back to be shot by his present-day self: hence the term “looper.” It is a never-ending cycle of murder, destruction and money.
Loopers thus turn to drugs and partying to deal with their troubled lifestyle—Joe among them. Every day and night, he assassinates a person, collects his money and parties at the club with all the other loopers to numb himself from the joylessness of his life.
However, everything drastically changes for Joe one night when his friend and fellow looper, Seth, desperately seeks his aid in running from the mob after failing to end his own contract. Seth reveals that his future self told him about the Rainmaker, or the man responsible for even starting the mob’s use of time travel and loopers to kill people.
Joe dismisses the idea of the Rainmaker and hides his friend, but later betrays him to the head of the mob, Abe, played by Jeff Daniels, to save his own money and life. Subsequently, the mob sends Joe’s future self back to the past to end his contract: future Joe, played by Bruce Willis, escapes and desperately tries to seek a way to take revenge on the mob.
While past Joe tries to track his future self down to regain his past, he instead fatefully meets Sara and Cid, who are no ordinary mother and son combination. Joe, both present and future, finds himself on a wild chase for both escape and redemption from the endless loop of murders and crime.
Directed by Rian Johnson, “Looper” is a clever, well-written film that stands apart from most of the other films in its sci-fi genre. Although it is set decades in the future, there is no portrayal of any drastic improvements in technology and human capabilities: in fact, telekinesis, the ability to move things with one’s mind, is seen as a mere trick to woo the opposite sex.
The city is simply a grim, bleak place overrun with homeless vagrants, shallow breadwinners and crime affiliates. Farms in the middle of nowhere, where Sara and Cid live, still exist and require hard, manual labor. The film also effectively uses the elements of contrast to engage the audience in understanding the different perspectives of the characters.
Present-day Joe is a suave, professional assassin who understands the consequences of working for the mob. Future Joe is a determined, experienced man desperate to find a way out of the cycle. Both Gordon-Levitt and Willis do an excellent job of portraying both Joes as sympathetic characters, despite their own crimes throughout the movie. Emily Blunt also excellently portrays Sara as a unique female character: a farmwoman who is both physically and emotionally strong, cautious and somehow still sensual without being seductive in any manner.
There is an even proportion of both humorous and heinous moments—lots of dry humor and clever wit, offset by brutal murder and torture scenes. The entire movie is a joyride through a dark future of blatantly organized crime, characters’ complex situations and decisions and a look at the endless cycles of life that will continue unless one person takes a stand.
The prominent themes of karma, self-sacrifice, betrayal and love all tie together to make “Looper” the unique, must-see film of the fall season.