This is one of the big ones of 2012. It comes with trippy time-travel themes, a great cast and it’s getting great reviews. It’s from Rian Johnson, the rising star director behind Brick and the Brothers Bloom. And it’s one of those “what if” sci-fi films that asks some pretty big questions.
But if time travel movies tend to fry your noodle, then I hope you’ve got your thinking caps on.
What if…in 2044…time travel does not yet exist? What if mobsters in the future are using it to send targets back to 2044 to be shot dead by assassins called Loopers? It’s the perfect murder. It literally erases people from existence.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one such Looper who enjoys the spoils of his work.
As with all Loopers, they must killer their future self to close the loop and keep thing neat and tidy for the mob. But when Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back for termination, he escapes and goes on the run. Not good. Young Joe’s mob boss (Jeff Daniels) sets various gun-toting goons onto both of them.
Old Joe is searching for a boy who will grow up to be the nastiest of mobsters known as The Rainmaker. Young Joe finds the boy first, on a remote farm sheltered by his fiercely protective mother (Emily Blunt).
Does he saves the boy, save himself, or change the future?
These kinds of time-travel conundrums really tests your mettle. As Jeff Daniels’ calmly scary mob boss says, all this time travel stuff can “fry your brain like an egg”.
It may fry your noggin trying to figure out all those time loops! Yet I have some BIG problems with the narrative and the internal logic in Looper. Why would young Joe want to kill old Joe? He’d be killing HIMSELF! How do the old and young versions of the same Joe exist in the same time? Is that possible? Where’s Einstein when you need him!
But while Looper’s narrative is only just plausible, it’s great fun trying to figure it all out. And it’s more about the choices we make, the path that puts us on, and what if — given the choice — we could change our past?
Above all, Looper is a gritty, gripping and thoroughly entertaining mind-bender set in a near-future dystopia. If you like the dirty future dystopias in 12 Monkeys and Children of Men, or the time travel conundrums of The Time Machine, The Terminator or Source Code, then you’ll enjoy Looper too. Johnson gets the look of the future just right, with its mix old-world clothes, cars and farms and new-world drugs, hover-bikes and telekinesis. And he gets a great performance from Blunt, who is almost unrecogniseable with her blonde hair and Southern accent.
Time travel is a hard nut to crack on film — and while they haven’t quite cracked it here — Looper is a provocative and highly original look into one possible future. What if?
Score: 7 out of 10