In the future, time travel has been invented, but it’s also been outlawed and only used by criminal organisations. In the present, Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is employed as a “looper” – a hitman who kills and disposes of mob victims sent back from 30 years in the future so as to avoid leaving any evidence. While Joe is planning to move away and start a new life, complications arise when the next victim that materialises is Joe’s future self (Willis), who manages to escape. Going on the run, both versions of Joe attempt to protect their respective timelines, both of which involve single mother Sara (Blunt)…
Boasting an uncommonly original and refreshingly inventive sci-fi premise, Looper is the kind of intelligent science fiction which is unfortunately rare these days. Easily the best genre movie of the year and, almost certainly, one of the best movies of the year full-stop, Rian Johnson’s third feature (after the stylish-yet-overrated Brick and stylish-yet-disappointing The Brothers Bloom) confirms the writer-director as a genuinely exciting filmmaker. While in lesser hands the stand-out concept would’ve been wasted on a series of soulless CGI set-pieces, here Johnson uses it to explore a variety of complex moral predicaments (see the hits Older Joe has to perform to save the woman he loves) and timeless philosophical quandaries (nature vs. nurture anyone?).
Though the time-travel plotting is undoubtedly original as mentioned, it’s also thematically reminiscent of genre classics The Terminator and Twelve Monkeys – but in a good way. So mind-bending that any attempt to describe the story in-depth would probably require a linear diagram of some kind, Looper’s plot (of which the surface is barely scratched in the summary above) is complex, twisty and, perhaps best of all, rarely predictable. While we don’t actually spend much time in the distant-future (IE, Older Joe’s present), both that era and the near-future (Younger’s Joe’s present, where 95% of the movie is set) are convincingly realised to a degree that few recent sci-fi pictures have managed. The very definition of thinking man’s science fiction, it isn’t just good guys vs. bad guys, it’s also good guy vs. good guy, both of whom happen to be the same good guy. Confused yet? You will be.
Of course, many of us were initially sceptical over the duel casting of said good guy, given how unlikely it is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will one day look like Bruce Willis. But yet, the former nails some Willis-esque mannerisms, while there are a few really nice touches (see Younger Joe checking out his hairline) and amusing character moments throughout. Unsurprisingly, both are excellent, with Gordon-Levitt cementing his position as one of most consistently brilliant actors working today (along with fellow Dark Knight Rises star Tom Hardy) and Willis adding another memorable sci-fi entry to his CV. In support, Emily Blunt provides further proof that she’s the hottest actress around just now (she is), whilst Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels, and Garret Dillahunt (who played a Terminator in TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles) lend superior support.
Boasting an uncommonly original and refreshingly inventive sci-fi premise, Looper is the kind of intelligent science fiction which is unfortunately rare these days. Easily the best genre movie of the year and, almost certainly, one of the best movies of the year full-stop, Rian Johnson’s third feature confirms the writer-director as a genuinely exciting filmmaker.