Published Sep 06, 2012Try something new, break the self-destructive cycle of repetition — that's the point of idiosyncratic writer/director Rian Johnson's exhilarating and inventive take on action-packed science fiction.
The only trouble is that pointing out how the majority of people are mired in the facile comfort of nostalgia isn't exactly a fresh sentiment. How he constructs and presents this both more and less loopy than expected tale is exceptionally novel though.
In the year 2044, an organization is set up to handle body disposal for mob syndicates 30 years in the future, when time travel has been invented and promptly banned. The agents who do this dirty work are called "loopers," because they sign up for the job knowing that one day they'll have to "close the loop" by killing their future selves (perceived as a noble form of suicide, like smoking).
Thirty years of riches seems enough for the short sighted thugs under the employ of future mobster Abe (Jeff Daniels, who does a great job of balancing amiable with threatening). Things get complicated when average junky looper Joe's (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brick) number comes up and his future self (Bruce Willis) doesn't go down easy. Trust me, that's as much as you want to know about the plot.
While the enjoyment of the film isn't as dependent on densely layered misdirection as Johnson's previous efforts, Brick and The Brothers Bloom, Looper has its fair share of unexpected tricks. Once the clues have been presented, it's relatively easy to figure out what the plot threads are weaving towards, and it's an appropriate and thematically satisfying conclusion. However, one can't help but feel a little disappointment at the deceptively straightforward nature of the narrative, considering Rian's past efforts.
Levitt does a remarkable job emulating the mannerisms and speech patterns of Bruce Willis, which feels especially eerie, coupled with the subtle, face-altering prosthetics used to close the resemblance gap. The supporting cast, especially Emily Blunt, do a great job and Willis certainly acts like an aging action star, though that angle is played up irony-free a little much.
Looper also does a great job of creating a rich and distinct future, and Johnson demonstrates admirable creative restlessness with his imaginative shot choices and the minutiae of the plot points more so than in the overarching themes. Another point in Looper's favour: it contains the year's most engaging, descriptive and memorable score, composed by Johnson's go-to music man and brother, Nathan.
This year's best hardboiled science fiction won't blow many minds, but it's a heck of a lot more innovative and engaging than the majority of its peers. (Alliance)