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LOOPER review

Posted on November 6th, 2012
Posted on November 6th, 2012

Article by: Coop Cooper

A.K.A. The Small Town Critic

In 2042, organized crime has taken over the United States which is now a depression-plagued third world country. By 2070, time travel is invented and serves a special service for the mob: Since murder and corpse disposal is nearly impossible in this distant future, the mob sends live victims back to 2042 in order for “looper” assassins to cleanly eliminate all traces of them. When aging loopers become a liability in the distant future, they are sent back for their younger selves to dispose of, who in turn receive a massive payoff in exchange for a wealthy – but limited – lifespan. Failing to kill your older double leads to gruesome consequences.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young hotshot looper in urban Kansas with an aimless life. When his older self (Bruce Willis) suddenly appears for him to assassinate, Young Joe hesitates and Old Joe gets to drop on him and escapes. Young Joe desperately tracks his older self down to clean the slate while the mob searches for them both. However, older Joe also has a desperate mission to complete, one that could mean the difference between a dark or bright future for him and the entire world… and he doesn’t care who he has to hurt to get it.

Although this sounds like a simple, high-concept movie, “Looper” is one of the most complex and original sci-fi movies in years. The story is full of interesting details and flourishes that all manage to pay off in satisfying ways. For instance, a tenth of the population have become TKs (telekinetics) who can’t use their power for much more than floating coins as a party trick. At first this seems like a throwaway futuristic movie footnote, but it turns into a major plot point by the end. There are also nice touches of futuristic flair, like the ‘blunderbuss’ hand cannon that ensures a looper never misses a close-range assassination, or the ridiculously large revolvers the ‘gat men’ enforcers use which are certainly more of a mob fashion statement than a practical firearm. There are flying motorcycles, futuristic air drones and high-tech cell phones but the production design is more rooted in low-tech reality. Think “Blade Runner” with more corn fields.

As far as the time travel aspect, enough is explained to allow the audience to buy into it, but not so much as to confuse the concept. As Bruce Willis’s character says to his younger self, “I don’t wanna talk about time travel. If we do, we’ll be here all day making diagrams with straws.” Time travel paradoxes and changing history aren’t the only problems for these two characters. They also have very selfish agendas that pit them ferociously against each other. At times it’s hard to tell who to root for, the young Joe or the old. Audiences will find themselves torn, even at the end as it is hard to blame either characters for their actions.

The acting is beyond phenomenal. Seeing Gordon-Levitt in ‘young Bruce Willis’ makeup is disconcerting at first but he pulls off the look, the voice and the mannerisms perfectly. Willis does predictably good work and rumor has it he is claiming “Looper” is the finest film he has ever been in. Jeff Daniels has one of the most interesting roles as mob boss, Abe, from the distant future who has an interesting outlook on life and gives cryptic advice… When Joe expresses his desire to retire to France, Abe says, “Trust me, kid. I’m from the future. Go to China.” Although she doesn’t appear until halfway through, the stunning Emily Blunt has a surprisingly complex role. If she had a couple more scenes I would dare say she would be an Oscar contender for Best Supporting Actress. Newcomer Noah Segan plays the most compelling villain in the film as the pathetic, yet relentless enforcer, Kid Blue. I have a feeling this will be his breakout role.

The best part about “Looper” is that it’s completely unpredictable. There is no way of guessing which way the story is going to go and where it does go is impressively exciting and original. It felt like it had the budget of a blockbuster, but with the attention to story and characters usually reserved for the best of indie films. Genre fans might even be shocked to find out how this film has some similarities to the Japanese animated “Akira” and even the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s “Carrie.” All throughout it I was remembering where I was when I saw sci-fi classics like “Star Wars,” “Terminator” and “Aliens.” I believe “Looper” will attain the status of a classic eventually, if not immediately and I am glad I witnessed it in a theater instead of on DVD. Definitely a must-see.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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