Looper sends audiences spiraling out of their seats

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Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is off to assassinate the victim of a crime syndicate from the future. Looper follows what would happen if one were faced with assassinating one’s future self.

Ben Lerner, Staff Writer

In the 2070s, time travel is invented and immediately declared illegal. Future crime syndicates waste no time putting the practice to use, disposing of bodies using hired hitmen known as “loopers.” A looper agrees to shoot anyone the mob sends his way, even if that person winds up being his future self.  Causality problems aside, this is the premise of the new film Looper.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), is a young looper living in Kansas City in 2044. He lives the good life, spending his time driving around in a vintage car, living in a spacious, well-decorated apartment, sporting century-old ties, and indulging in the finest drugs that he can afford as a mob-hired killer.

Much of the city, however, lives in squalor, but the movie doesn’t explore the sociological aspects of the 2040s. Rather, the city is a gritty, cyberpunk backdrop for the high-stakes action in the film’s first half.

One day, while on the job, Joe confronts a target with an uncovered face.  Recognizing the man as his future self (Bruce Willis), he hesitates to kill him.  When the past and future Joes finally meet, Old Joe explains that in his future, the mobs are united under the rule of a single tyrannical mass murderer known as the Rainmaker.

Old Joe returns to the past to undo the evil that is the Rainmaker by killing him decades before he rises to power, removing the hit on himself.

Hiding in wait at a farm where a precocious possible future-Rainmaker, Cid, lives with his mother Sara (Emily Blunt), Young Joe initiates a fatal game of cat-and-mouse with his future self.

From there, the movie shifts from sci-fi thriller shoot-outs to more tense, low key scenes with Old Joe stealthily tip-toeing around the city, on the run from the mob, and Young Joe waiting for him to finally arrive, all the while slowly becoming more comfortable with Sara.

It’s worth mentioning that she isn’t just some one-dimensional love interest; Sara is a brave, strong woman who defends her property and her child.

This keeps the film from to fill up its run-time without dragging on or squeezing too much action into the second half without allowing for necessary climactic buildup Looper doesn’t get too hung up on the consistency of its time travel, and neither should you.

If you’re a stickler for time travel movies that follow their own rules so stringently that by the end there are seven different versions of the characters running around off-screen, each with their own motive (a la Primer), then you probably won’t give this movie the love it deserves.

The writing is this movie’s strong point. It becomes difficult to decide between sympathizing with the present and future versions of the same character.

The film’s cinematography deserves praise as well; the opening shots of Joe riding around the city are shot with a surrealism reminiscent of last year’s Drive.

Gordon-Levitt’s face was altered slightly with prosthesis to better resemble Willis’, and while some may find it a bit off-putting, it ends up not being too jarring or noticeable. Unless you see this movie solely to marvel at Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s natural nose, Looper is thoroughly enjoyable.