Looper (2012, Film Review)
Believe it or not, ‘Looper’ is a story about loops. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Joe Simmons, an assassin who has his targets sent back through time by the mob so that he can kill them. Yes that’s right, in the future its so difficult to get away with murder the mob use time travel to kill people. Life seems good for Joe, but as it turns out the mob have to close the loops created by the assassins. This means that every assassin will eventually have to kill their future selves to close the loop. Of course when Joe’s future self (played by Bruce Willis) is sent back, he escapes. With Younger Joe and a very angry mob on his tail, Old Joe sets out to change his own and younger self’s future.
My very small issue with the film lies within the concept. This is a time travel film and it relies on the audience not reading into the logic of time travel. For example, there are surely much better uses for a time travel machine other than using it to kill individual people. To the film’s credit though it refuses to get tied down trying to explain how time travel works and just creates more issues. In fact Joe’s future self flat out won’t explain it because “I could be sat here all day making diagrams out of straws”, clearly a joke about other films that go into depth trying to explain the trope.
Other than this minor issue, the film is very enjoyable. The film paints a bleak vision of the future, where major cities are rife with poverty and crime. This sci fi environment mirrors our own world making the film feel accessible but intriguing for fans of the genre. However, certain environments and props give a distinctly western feel to the film. For example some characters wield old fashioned revolvers and possess a cowboy like presence in the film. These two distinct genres succeed in giving the film its own unique style. While its not completely original it contributes to the overall experience.
The film can be extremely brutal and shocking, more than earning its age 15 rating. This keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times, making stand offs between characters even more nail biting. Whats most effective is the presentation of Young Joe and Old Joe. While they are the main characters, its never clear who the hero of the story is. They both do some dark and brutal things throughout the film and I found myself constantly switching sides between the two. You never quite know who should be the rightful victor of the film and in the end its quite shocking how the story is resolved. Even for the more eagle eyed viewers, you may not see the ending coming.
The action is fast and brutal, with both Willis and Levitt talking part. Characters get shot, beaten up and thrown around throughout but the violence never loses its shock value. However one of the most effective scenes doesn’t actually show much gore or direct violence, it only suggests extremely disgusting and inhuman torture to a certain character. I personally felt quite sick when I figured out what was happening on screen and that had a much bigger impact than directly seeing what happened. I won’t spoil it, but look out for the character Seth. While this may sound like a straight up action film, its not. The film explores numerous themes that are relevant today, such issues such as single parents, moral ambiguity and fate. This is perfectly balanced with all the mainstream conventions so it makes it a film a large diverse audience can enjoy.
‘Looper’ is a fantastic and intriguing science fiction film. It has a great setting, strong characters and a tense climatic plot. This is very much a contender for one of the best films of the year. I wasn’t expecting what ‘Looper’ turned out to be, but I loved every second. Do not miss this film.