At the Movies - ‘Looper’ - review

Bruce Willis in 'Looper'.
Bruce Willis in 'Looper'.

There’s a scene in a roadside diner about half way through ‘Looper’ when Bruce Willis says to Joseph Gordon-Levitt that if they start talking about time travel they’ll be there all day and it’ll end up in the drawing of graphs and diagrams; I am glad someone else felt the same way.

In the year 2072, when organised crime gangs want someone disappeared they use time travel, which has been made illegal, to send the unfortunate character back to the 2040s to be executed by hit-men known as Loopers.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper.

Joe (Gordon-Levitt - ‘Premium Rush’ and ‘50/50’) is a Looper and with every person he executes for the crime bosses of the future he acquires generous amounts of silver; his ambition is to earn enough money, retire and move to France.

A Looper’s golden rule is that he must kill every person sent back in time, even if that person turns out to be themselves - this is what is know as ‘closing a loop’.

All of a sudden, a sinister crime boss in the future, known only as the Rainmaker, decides to start closing loops and one by one he finds and sends older versions of all the Loopers back in time to be executed.

Joe’s world is turned upside down when one day, his older self (Willis - ‘Die Hard 4.0’ and ‘The Expendables 2’) is sent back to be executed. The older Joe somehow manages to escape and sets out to find the Rainmaker and kill him.

Rian Johnson (‘Brick’ and ‘The Brothers Bloom’) is both the film’s writer and director and if awards and nominations don’t come a knocking then comparisons with the snub suffered Christopher Nolan when he directed ‘Inception’ two years ago will be drawn.

It’s difficult to think of another movie in 2012 that is as original, intelligent and altogether memorable as ‘Looper’.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ would certainly give Johnson’s film a run for its money but ‘Looper’ is so refreshingly original and different that it would be no surprise to see it as many film critics’ movie of the year.

Gordon-Levitt’s Joe underwent hours of make-up to make his appearance more consistent with that of Willis’ older Joe.

When I watched the trailer for ‘Looper’ I thought that Gordon-Levitt’s imposed transfiguration would be distracting but it wasn’t.

Gordon-Levitt has come a long way from the youngster who flopped his way around on screen in ‘Third Rock from the Sun’ and his performance in ‘Looper’ is but another impressive addition to a remarkable C.V. that already includes ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, ‘Inception’ and ‘Brick’.

The way in which Gordon-Levitt masters the mannerisms of a young Bruce Willis is nothing short of exceptional and he is more than accomplished during the film’s action scenes.

The reason that the older Joe has travelled from the future is to search out and kill the Rainmaker before he is allowed to grow up and become the underworld crime boss.

The Rainmaker of the 2040s is a ten year-old boy called Abe (Pierce Gagnon - ‘The Crazies’ and ‘The Way Home’) who lives on a sprawling farm with his mother (Emily Blunt - ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ and ‘The Young Victoria’).

The Rainmaker of the future is responsible for the death of older Joe’s wife so older Joe reckons if he goes back in time, and kills the Rainmaker he will save his wife’s life. Confused yet?

‘Looper’ has such a strong start, middle and ending. It’s a film that, unless you’ve travelled back in time, will keep you on your toes and guessing what might happen next.

The way some scenes are shot will draw comparison with the style used by director Lars Von Trier but Johnson still abounds in originality and his latest cinematic sojourn is one of the year’s most exciting.

The movie’s script, soundtrack (which is written by Rian Johnson’s brother Nathan) and cinematography are real treats but what makes ‘Looper’ such an instant classic is that it treats its audience with respect and refuses to pander to spoon feeding and opts to let them discover and think for themselves.

I’ve watched the trailer for ‘Looper’ several times since going along to see it and as soon as I arrive at some sort of conclusion, my definitive theory comes crashing down around me; be that as it may, Johnson’s film is sure to divide opinion but for this movie lover it was one of the best cinematic experiences of 2012 so far!

Verdict: 5/5 - ‘Looper’ is perhaps the most enjoyable, absorbing and original film since Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ was released in 2010. ‘Looper’ ticks all of the boxes; great script, great casting, brilliant performances, amazing soundtrack and outstanding cinematography. Time travel is central to the film’s plot which may turn-off those who prefer their movies to be served up on a plate but for those who appreciate it, ‘Looper’ will become a classic.