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Looper: The Movie Review

September 30, 2012

Director: Rian Johnson


I could not pass up writing this review.   This is the movie that has taken me out of my hiatus.   And I have to say that it is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Usually with movies that involve time travel, the plot that revolves around the central theory will end up shamelessly contradicting itself.  This will tend to ruin the whole movie for me; or at the very least, leave a bad taste in my mouth.  If you are going to do sci-fi, your story should be solid, or seem “realistic” or possible within the parameters that you have set.  Looper took care of this nicely without leaving glaring holes in the theory, or plot.  But even beyond the fact that it theoretically held water, this is an awesome movie with a powerful story that really delves into the psyche of people and how they tick, and what motivates them.  It taps into the best and the worst that we can be.  It brings to light, the struggle within us between right and wrong, and our power to change the world around and within us.  This movie is hard-hitting at times; it holds no punches, and offers no apologies.

I also should mention that when I first got wind of this movie, I couldn’t quite picture Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a younger version of

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Looper, Joe.

Bruce Willis’ character.  But I have to say that there were moments when the combination of Gordon-Levitt’s make-up, facial expressions, gestures and tone just totally “reeled me in.”  I was like, “Okay, yeah, yeah! I can see it!”

As the story goes, time travel is invented 30 years in the future (or rather, 30 years in the future of the future in which our main story takes place), but is immediately banned because of its potential to do irreparable damage to the time line.  But even though the technology is banned, it manages, through private interests, to fall into the hands of a large underground criminal organization in Shanghai whose leaders use it to execute and dispose of bodies without having any traceable evidence left behind.

Our story begins in the not-so-distant dystopian future of 2042.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a Looper.  The Loopers are a clandestine group of contracted executioners whose job it is to kill people and get rid of their bodies after they are sent back in time from about 30 years in the future.

Bruce Willis as “older Joe” enjoys a quiet moment with his wife Summer (Qing Xu) before he journeys back to the past.

Joe is pretty much a heartless, drug abusing, dashing whore-monger; a lost soul who, like his fellow loopers, was picked up from the outskirts of society and especially chosen for this work.  A Looper’s contract expires (at the behest of  “management”) when the future version of the looper is sent back through time, and the Looper unwittingly kills his future self; this is called “closing the loop.”  He is given a large sum of money for his final kill, and is free to live out the remaining 30 years, or so, of his life as he chooses.  Usually this would be a “blind kill,” as all those awaiting execution are sent back with their mouths gaged, and a sack over their heads, and are immediately shot at a precise time and place from a distance of perhaps 15 feet.  Ah, but the ever resourceful, Bruce Willis’ character manages to subdue his captors in the future, and goes into the time pod with his face uncovered so that the younger version of himself (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) will recognize him, thus giving him a window of opportunity to escape – and escape, he does!

Young Joe knows that he must track his future self

An alternate version of the Looper poster from Artist, Zachary Johnson.

down and terminate him, because he is already aware of the gruesome fate (courteously demonstrated in graphic detail — thank you Mr. Johnson!) that befalls a Looper who lets his target escape; especially if that target is himself.  But this proves easier said than done as a chance meeting with a kindred spirit causes Joe to reevaluate his motives and think beyond his selfish needs.  And things are further complicated (or advanced, if you will) by the fact that a new leader, the mysterious and powerful Rain Maker, has taken over the criminal organization that controls the Loopers from the future.  This, Rain Maker, for reasons of his own, wants to put an end to the Looper program, and so begins to systematically eradicate all the Loopers in the past by “closing all the loops.”

Other noteworthy performances include Jeff Daniels as Abe, the overseer of the Loopers in the present (2042).  He is the one who was first sent from the future to gather a team of misfit young men together and train them as Loopers.

Noah Segan convincingly plays the moronic and thoroughly unlikable, Kid Blue, a young oaf of a henchman whose soul purpose is to prove himself – albeit unsuccessfully– in the eyes of father-figure, Abe.

Pierce Gagnon plays Cid, a precocious (and somewhat creepy) 10-year-old child born with a special “gift” who may or may not be the key to helping the future Joe make things right with his time-line, and saving the love of his life, Summer Qing, who was killed when he was apprehended in the future.

Emily Blunt plays the hard-edged, street-wise Sara (Cid’s mom), who, after having

Sara (Emily Blunt) protects her son and her home.

initially abandoned him in his early life, has now struggled to raise and protect him for the past six or seven years.

A few years ago, while sitting in a theater watching Batman; The Dark Knight for the first time, I remember stopping at one point in the middle and reflecting, “Wow, this movie is amazing!”  That was the first time I recall being so taken with a movie that paused to reflect on how good it was right in the middle of viewing it.  Those feelings came back to me, though not with the same intensity, while watching Looper.  This reminds me of one of those rare lucid moments when in the midst of a dream, you step back for a moment and realize, “Hey, this is a dream, I’m dreaming now,” then you continue with the dream.  I love movies, but not a lot of them leave me feeling like I’ve been given something; like I’ve experienced something truly worthy.  Looper is such a movie.  The title could have been given a little more thought, perhaps – but that’s neither here nor

Loopers, Seth (Paul Dano) and Joe (Gordon-Levitt) ride in style!

there.  I can tell you right now that Looper is going to be a classic!  And it just might be  the best sci-fi/fantasy movie that Bruce Willis has ever been in.  But I cannot say the same for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, because he has already been in another awesome sci-fi-fan move in recent history called, “Inception.”

Kudos to director and writer, Rian Johnson, for creating an amazing sci-fi action thriller of substance, and inspiring me to write again!  I look forward to seeing what he comes up with in the future!  You can click on the movie poster above to see the trailer.  Also, check out this animated trailer from artist Zachary Johnson (Rian’s cousin) inspired by the movie.  And if any of you comes across a cool Looper movie tee-shirt, please let me know!  Peace out! – The Duster.

I give Looper 4 stars:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2012 12:38 pm

    Always great to see an artist inspired by another. Can’t wait to see your review of Cloud Atlas. And on the note of interesting movies….did you know Scorsese is working on another one? They were just filming The Wolf of Wall Street to come out in 2013 in Rego Park yesterday.

  2. October 2, 2012 1:43 pm

    Hi chefly, thanks for your comment! And yes, I am very much looking forward to Cloud Atlas myself – I’m loving the book! I didn’t know about the Scorcese film. Thanks for sharing! Leonardo is probably the most reviewed actor on my blog!
    – The Duster

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