Joseph Gordon-Levitt has had a busy movie year but Looper may his most original. This science fiction thriller from Rian Johnson fits right in with Inception and Avatar as original films that bend the genre. It goes like this. Time travel is illegal in 2074, so mobs use it to get rid of their enemies. Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a Looper, who kills those sent back to 2044 and gets rid of the bodies. That is until his future self, played by Bruce Willis, appears and escapes, causing Joe to chase himself through Kansas. What ensues is a story unlike any you have ever seen where there are no heroes, just killers. And a cute little kid. Watch the trailer and read my review after the jump.
What makes this movie special is the way it incorporates time-travel into the story. That’s because its not really about time travel at all. Its about changing the future and how the future is not much different from now. Sure there are motor bikes that fly, robot tractors and telekinetic powers, but they are merrily gimmicks and only a small part of the story. People still drive cars, still live in farm houses and still wear neck ties. This is a future that looks very plausible and real. Johnson has looked at 2012 and molded a future that is the direct result of where we live now.
The performances here are also amazing. In a scene at a diner, Willis and Gordon-Levitt really show off their acting chops. Both play Joe with intensity and yet still make him their own. Each Joe has different motivations (and different love interests) which makes it easy to forget they are the same man. Emily Blunt plays a mother whose son is being hunted by older Joe and she makes a very convincing farm girl. Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano have small roles as young Joe’s Looper affiliates but neither get enough screen time to do anything special. Lastly, young Pierce Gangnon plays Blunt’s son Cid with amazing intensity, especially in the movies final moments.
Looper is a movie with an amazing ending that really is the reason this is a must see movie. Without saying much, there is a very clear character arch for young Joe while Cid and his mother have a touching moment. There really is no story line left unexplained but there are still some talking points for audience members after it ends. Like Avatar and Inception, you will be in shock when it ends and be left to ponder what you just saw. That’s when science fiction is at its best.
Lastly, Johnson started the credits in silence, further allowing the shock of this film to sink in. A small but nice touch.