I went to see Looper last Friday when it opened. I’d been waiting impatiently for it to come out ever since I first heard vague rumblings on the net about a scifi movie with Bruce Willis in it. You may chuckle to yourselves at that statement, especially given that his most famous science fiction movie before this is either a cult classic or the worst movie ever made, depending on who you ask. From my level of breathless anticipation, you can tell that I fall firmly in the former camp.
I like scifi. I like Bruce Willis (yes, I admitted that in public). Turns out that Bruce Willis was the icing on a brutally good cake.
Joseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis play Joe, a looper (basically a mob hitman) whose hits are delivered to him from the future via time travel. The technology is outlawed but used in secret anyway by the mob as an efficient means to carry out hits, since bodies are apparently too impossible to hide or dispose of in the late 21st century.
Joe explains the rules of the system to us in a slow but satisfying build up to the main action of the movie. You show up, do the hit, collect payment (silver bars strapped to the victims back), take care of the body, go blow your cash on drugs and women. Rinse, repeat. Until… You are sent back to be killed by your younger self (this time with gold bars strapped to your back) and you “close the loop” by executing yourself.
When young Joe and older Joe lay eyes on each other is when this science fiction movie really takes off and spreads its wings, a mean feat considering how stellar the set up is. The dichotomy between these two versions of the same person is palpable. Young Joe is looking out for #1. He still wants to please the higher ups and retire to France (probably because that seems romantic to him) when his loop is closed. The elder Joe has lived a lifetime full of what the younger version’s choices have set him up for; he wants to hold on to what he has at any cost.
I don’t want to give away anything by explaining anymore plot points. The two leads are fantastic in their respective portrayals of the same character. Extra kudos to Joseph Gordon Levitt for picking up the the voice, cadence, and physical tics that we expect to see on Bruce Willis and making them believable.
The supporting cast, including Jeff Daniels, Emily Blunt, and Piper Perabo, also give excellent performances. The writing, direction, and most important, pacing, are all top notch. I highly recommend this movie even if, especially if you are not a scifi fan. At its heart this movie is a character piece and the speculative element is the purely to drive the story along in the best possible way.
I’ll be seeing this again and definitely adding it to my collection.