Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the man of the moment and his second collaboration with Director Rian Johnson (Brick) will do no harm to his increasing popularity and credibility as one of Hollywood’s hottest rising stars.
More commonly found in supporting roles or ensemble pieces, Gordon-Levitt takes centre stage this time around with strong support from Bruce Willis. Looper is set in a future somewhere between the smoggy dystopian cityscape of Blade Runner and the crumbling society of Children of Men, where only rural life seems to offer any respite from our self-destructive societal descent. Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a hit-man (or Looper) whose job is to take out the trash for his employers as they send targets back from his future via time-travelling teleportation.
Films which have ventured into the mind boggling complexities of time travel have often focused too heavily on the science, failing to provide convincing explanations and losing the audiences interest along the way. Part annoyingly, bust mostly to good effect, Johnson and Co. have decided not to concentrate on the why but instead use the most complex of the sci-fi themes as a platform for the characters and their surroundings to flourish and entertain. In fact, within the future Looper portrays, time travel has already been outlawed and is only used on the black market by criminal organisations for the purpose of making unwanted ‘evidence’ dissapear. This evidence comes in the form of ‘bagged and tagged’ live victims who are sent back in time where a Looper is waiting to assassinate and dispose of them. An ingenious method which the Looper’s are all too happy to fulfil, that is until their own future selves start being sent back for them to murder and subsequently ‘close their loop’. As Gordon Levitt’s Joe will tell you, it’s not easy to shoot yourself, especially when your future self is Bruce Willis.
What ensues is a relatively fast-paced and enthralling game of cat and mouse which disappointingly becomes convoluted as you’re never quite sure who the real protagonist is. By the time you have decided who you’re rooting for, the motives of each character become partially questionable. All have their own reasons to survive and win the day, but by the time Emily Blunt’s farm hand Sara and her extra-ordinary son Cid ( Pierce Gagnon) are introduced as major characters, you realise it is probably best not to worry about the why and just enjoy the ride.
Due to the same adventurous direction and daring creativity Johnson displayed in Brick, as well another convincing performance from Gordon-Levitt, Looper delivers just enough thrills to see you through to the end. It may not live long in the memory, but Looper does entertain on most levels and elevates a genre which is all too often exploited for its relaxed fictional boundaries.