Perth-based film, literature and script writing student.
Looper may drive you loopy
My first piece of advice when seeing this film is not to think too hard. Directed by Rian Johnson, also the writer of the film, Looper is a sort-of-science-fiction action flick that is sure to leave you scratching your head if you try to figure out the logic behind what is going on. As one of the characters states, "This time travel crap, just fries your brain like an egg…"
But if you accept the circumstances and don't look too hard at the flaws, you will find yourself watching a gripping story, torn between the characters' plight for survival in a harsh future.
Set slightly ahead of our time (there are flying motorcycles but weapons are of a similar standard to today), Looper begins with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character Joe explaining who he is and why he does what he does. Time travel has not yet been invented. But thirty years from now, it will have been."
He goes on to say that he works as a 'Looper', an assassin that gets paid giant bars of silver to shoot someone blasted from the bad guys in the future back to the past, because it is easier to dispose of bodies by doing it that way, for some reason. The only people who use time travel in the future is the mob, because it's illegal. And they pay the Loopers very well, the only condition being that they must shoot anyone they sent back, even if that person is their future self. The day that happens, they get a huge payment of gold and spend the next thirty years living it up before they get sent back to die at their own hands. It is termed 'closing your loop'.
Are you with me so far? Good, keep going. When Gordon-Levitt's future self, played by Bruce Willis, is sent to his death, he outsmarts his younger version and gets away. Because he already got shot once, and remembered what happened. I think.
This sets in motion a chain of events that spirals rapidly out of control, forcing the younger Joe to try to hunt down and kill his older self, hoping he can undo the damage he has caused before it's too late. The older Joe has other plans. Terrified of losing the wife he has found, he sets about on a mission to find and kill the "Rainmaker", the evil tyrant from the future who is closing all of the loops.
At this point the film almost turns into a different story, pulling away from the time-travel exploration and going back to something that was briefly mentioned in the beginning, telekinesis. Younger Joe finds himself on a farm owned by Sara (Emily Blunt) who lives with her young son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Cid is one of three children that the older Joe has narrowed down to become the Rainmaker in the future. Without giving away too much, Cid is powerful and dangerous, but still an innocent.
From here the film explores the relationships between the small family, and also shows flashbacks of the older Joe with his wife, while he goes about trying to eliminate the Rainmaker. In his mind, doing this will save his wife.
The most compelling thing about the film is the way that there is no clear protagonist or hero we wish to succeed, and no antagonist that we wish to fail. We are caught between Sara's wish to help Cid and older Joe's desperation to save his wife. Gordon-Levitt's character is as torn as we are, and the resolution of the film genuinely surprised me, although once it happens, you will wonder how the story could end any other way.
Looper starts with a fascinating look into the ever-popular questions of time travel and supernatural powers, but ends with something more universal- the struggle of human relationships, sacrifice and love.