Film review: Looper

Brendan Kergin, Arts & Entertainment Editor  Ω

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the time travel thriller, Looper. – Image courtesy DMG Entertainment

Time travel leads to messy plots. The more a story discusses its intricacies, the more issues arise. Looper is a film where plenty hinges on time travel and the mechanics surrounding it, which are all unknown and uncertain. While writer/director Rian Johnson tries quell them, there will always be issues.

The story puts us a little more than 30 years in the future, where the mob has control of an unnamed dystopian city. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a hit man for the mob, but not thug or assassin — he’s a looper — someone paid to kill those sent back from the future to be killed. This is apparently the most efficient way of disappearing bodies from the technologically-advanced future where tracking devices are commonplace and time travel has been invented and immediately banned.

As part of the job description it’s agreed that the loopers will, at some point, have to kill their future self, completing a loop.

This is where the movie takes off. The first portion explains a lot; when telekinesis came into existence, the mobs rule, loopers and establishing a fairly solid setting.

Bruce Willis’ arrival and subsequent escape as a future Joe is where things get fuzzy, with paradoxes and time-related memory loss.

It’s also at this point new major characters get involved, which is a hiccup at first, but the movie is long enough to absorb the impact of the late additions.

Looper is a conceptually a strong film and despite being action packed and sci-fi, it has plenty of moral questions with some dark ethics. The climax involves no real villains and two perfectly understandable viewpoints facing off in a life-or-death situation.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a strong central figure and his Joe does express some character growth. Though slow, at first he eventually catches up to the unique situation he’s in. Bruce Willis’s Joe, on the other hand, is fairly one-dimensional with a couple strong scenes. It’s not Willis’ acting, but the writing that leaves him flat.

Aside from Joe (all versions) most characters are fairly generic, but this is acceptable as the real issue at hand for the majority of the movie is time travel, knowledge of the future and destiny. Plenty of the audience’s brain power is needed to unravel things like why the mob doesn’t want to kill Levitt or how Willis’ memory might be working at any given moment.

For the time travel fans, a definite must see. For people looking for a more straightforward action film this might be a little difficult at times. Looper is not a bad film to sit back and think about from a cool distance.