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Looper is an infinite masterpiece

Looper is a testament to what is missing in science fiction these days: originality and a good old-fashioned time. The film is built around the tried and true concept of time travel. So many films exist about time travel, but it’s hard to recall one of late that has put the unique spin and ingenuity into it that writer and director Rian Johnson has.

It’s 2044 in Kansas and an underground team of assassins, called Loopers, have been formed to kill targets sent from the future. You see, time travel exists thirty years down the line and when the crime bosses of the future want their targets dead, they send them back to be immediately taken down by the Looper who is waiting at the designated place, cocked and ready to fire. Sometimes, though, the target that comes back is their own “old” self when they have been retired from being a Looper in the future. This is simply called closing their loop.

The story starts off centered around Joe (the always consistent and mesmerizing Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a Looper who has a junkie habit and parties at night with his favorite stripper. One night, his best friend comes running to him telling him that he couldn’t bring himself to kill his own older self and the games start from there. Joe turns his pal into his nasty boss, Abe, played by Jeff Daniels (always nice to see Daniels go dark and sinister). Shortly after this, Joe must go on the run from Abe, too, since “Old Joe” comes back from the future and basically kicks the living daylights out of “Young Joe” before he can react.

The casting of Bruce Willis as the older version of Joseph Gordon-Levitt may be puzzling to some, but once you see the makeup effects, you will truly be impressed. Gordon-Levitt’s transformation is amazing. This movie marks somewhat of a comeback for Willis, as his last shining moment came in 2005 with Sin City (no, I’m not counting that schlockfest Red).

It turns out that Old Joe came back to kill the man that murdered his wife. He refers to this villain as The Rainmaker and knows if he kills him as a child, then he won’t exist and he can save his wife from being killed in the future. The exchanges these two actors share as the older and younger version of each other are particularly interesting. Bruce Willis uses his usual dry wit to his advantage as Old Joe, adding just enough nuance to make you believe what he is saying. Joseph Gordon-Levitt manages to outshine the veteran with his intensity and bravado.

After these two meet, and then meet again and part ways after Old Joe kicks his ass again, they each devise a plan to accomplish what the both want: Old Joe wants to kill the Rainmaker as a kid and Young Joe wants to kill Old Joe so he can have his life back. As these two plots progress, we are introduced to several more characters. One in particular, Emily Blunt’s Sara, lives on an old farm and forms an unusual relationship with Young Joe. It is here where the story shifts from a straightforward sci-fi rendezvous to a film about ethics, belief, and resolve. I wish I could talk more about the latter half of the movie, but this would give too much away to the audience.

Looper is both a fascinating sci-fi tale and a commentary on choices and commitments. These promises we make to ourselves can evolve by forming relationships, however brief. The aspect of this film that stood out and impressed me the most was the juxtaposition of the two different settings. We see Young Joe’s life in the big city in Kansas and the loneliness and darkness he inhabits. This contrasts beautifully with when he arrives after a series of events on Sara’s farm in the middle of nowhere and suddenly, everything becomes clear. But that’s usually the way things are: simple, until we make them complicated. It’s not every movie that can thrill, entertain and provoke and THAT will throw you for a loop.

Looper is now playing at Goodrich Savoy 16 Theater and Carmike Beverly Cinema 18.


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