Innovative, mind-bending, thrilling and twisted are just a few words that could be used to describe Rian Johnson’s newest creation, Looper. The director and writer, who won the ‘Originality & Vision’, award at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2005 for the indie film Brick, once again proves that he is a force to be reckoned with.
The year is 2044, and the world as we know it is now overpopulated, poverty-stricken and the streets are swarming with the homeless; time travel has yet to be invented. However, thirty years later, time travel is in full swing. Outlawed and illegally operated by the leading criminal corporations, time-travel’s main use is simple: eliminate targets that are believed to be a threat in the future by sending them back thirty years to a group of specialised assassins called Loopers. The catch? Each assassin will someday have to kill his older self, thus ‘closing the loop’.
When Joe (Gordon-Levitt), one of the most esteemed and accomplished Loopers around, is faced with the older version of himself (Willis) as the target, he realises that his time has come. Shocked by the vision before him, Joe hesitates, allowing himself to escape. Letting your target flee is the biggest no-no in the Loopers’ organisation – run by the inscrutable boss Abe (Daniels). With his reputation on the line, Abe cannot allow young Joe to escape without closing his loop, and he recruits an army of assassins to hunt him. Now on the run, Joe is determined to settle the score- completely oblivious to the difficult road that lies before him.
The story is highly intelligent and well-crafted. Johnson keeps the pace moving and doesn’t reveal too much; the viewers are kept in the loop (get it?) pretty much the whole way through, without stifling the build-up.
One thing that makes Looper stand out from the crowd is how a perfect balance of action, drama, comedy, special effects and music was achieved. Nothing is overwhelming. Every aspect of this feature finds its place at just the right moment, without ever escaping the element of surprise. Johnson’s directorial eye shines with the quieter moments of the film, where he allows plenty of time for the tension to build; the audience is never really sure where the story will go to next.
With that said, Looper wouldn’t be much without its brilliant cast. The performances, from top to bottom, are outstanding. Gordon-Levitt, with the aid of prosthetics, impersonates the younger version of Willis well, giving the film authenticity and character consistency. This is a third collaboration with the director/writer Rian Johnson, and he is slowly becoming a very convincing leading man. Willis comes off sincere and there is a depth to his character that he carries well. The leading lady, and the most notable performance of all, is Blunt’s, whose character is introduced in the second-half of the film. Her role as a caring and a protective mother, who comes in contact with young Joe at a secluded farmhouse, is evocative and gives the film even more depth.
Unpredictable and mind-blowing, Looper comes as a breath of fresh air. It’s not a remake or an adaptation; it’s original and smart.