Film Review: LOOPER


A thought-provoking film where the fight for survival takes the characters to disturbing places, but compassion and change from within gives them hope... Naomi Rossdeutscher

LOOPER is a smart sci-fi thriller, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, who play the same man, but one lives in 2044 and the other exists 30 years later.

It’s a clever concept by writer and director Rian Johnson and the film delivers well on that concept. The structure is complex, but skilful script writing and editing makes grasping the story easy, even with the implications of time travel. The unpredictable script doesn't pull any punches and the film's execution is stylish.

LOOPER is set in the near future and the world doesn’t look very different from today, except there are flying motor-bikes, a few people have telekinesis and a voice-over tells us time travel has been invented 30 years in the future and although it was immediately outlawed, the criminal underworld are using it to get rid of their rivals.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, Joe, is a Looper and his job entails assassinating targets zapped back from 30 years in the future. Even though a hood covers the face of his victims and the job is financially rewarding, the toll weighs heavily on Joe. Plus, at the end of their contract the Looper has to 'close their Loop' by assassinating their older version.  They are handsomely compensated with gold bullion, but it shortens their lives by 30 years.

When Joe’s next victim arrives without a hood and he recognises his older self, played by Bruce Willis, he is momentarily thrown and he allows his older self to escape.

The action kicks up a notch as old Joe embarks on a desperate mission to save his future while gangsters are trying to cut it short. Old Joe has lived a savage life and walks an unwavering path with no mercy, but young Joe is still open to possibilities, which puts them in conflict with each other.

The casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, two captivating actors, enhanced the joy of the ride. Gordon-Levitt changed his face with a prosthetic nose, lips and make up and added quirky Willis mannerisms to his performance to sell us on the idea that they were the same guy and it's fascinating to watch. I prefer Emily Blunt playing this kind of strong, decisive character and Pierce Gagnon, who played her son, delivered a gripping performance.

LOOPER puts the idea forward, that children become what their circumstances make them. The melancholy tone, ideas of children being the source of change and the use of time travel to manipulate the future is reminiscent of the first Terminator. The target audience is the young adult male, but with this smart story and an unsentimental romance the movie should also please a wider audience.

Out now on DVD.