Time the enemy
REAL winner, Rian Johnson’s Looper is a twisty, whip-smart variation on The Terminator.
The always-wonderful Joseph GordonLevitt (star of Johnson’s high-school noir Brick) plays a hit man in the year 2042 who’s operating in a highly specialised niche. His victims are dropped off, bound and hooded, in a prearranged spot in a Kansas cornfield. All he has to do is shoot them, dispose of the bodies in a furnace in a nearby abandoned factory and collect the silver bars on their backs as payment.
He’s one of a squad of ‘‘loopers’’. The victims have been sent from 30 years in the future – where time travel has been discovered. One of the time-travel devices has fallen into the hands of a fearsome crime boss who devises this unique outsourcing (back sourcing?) arrangement, since disposing of bodies is far more difficult in 2032 thanks to advances in forensics.
There’s only one catch for the loopers: One day, their victim is going to be their future selves. When they dispose of their future selves, the loopers are given a cushy retirement – but it lasts exactly 30 years.
Gordon-Levitt’s future self, beautifully played by Bruce Willis, wants to beat the game when he’s shipped back to 2042. Not only does he manage to elude his fate, he’s determined to wipe out the future crime boss who ordered the execution of the woman he loved in the future.
The crime boss in the past – who was sent back from the future to oversee the operation and is played by Jeff Daniels – orders all of the loopers to hunt down both Gordon-Levitt and Willis.
The whole thing comes to a head at a desolate farm house where Emily Blunt (doing a very credible American accent) is guarding the future crime boss, an already troubled 10-year-old, with a shotgun.
While there’s no shortage of impressive effects – several characters have telekinetic powers – Johnson wisely largely eschews them in the film’s character-driven middle section, as these three characters with varying and changing motives size each other up and the potential outcomes of their actions.
Looper is an indie-inflected popcorn movie with major brains and a highly satisfying pay-off.
Willis, who deserved an Oscar nomination for The Sixth Sense but didn’t get one, may actually get a supporting nod for his stellar work here.
Bruce Willis (left) and Joseph GordonLevitt (right) star in