I’m stumped as to where to begin with Looper. First things first I can’t help but feel Rian Johnson, the guy who brought us the neo-noir crime thriller Brick, has not been given enough credit for Looper. It wasn’t an instant hit and it isn’t a film that people quote as being their favourite or at least in their top ten. But you can’t blame them. There are so many good films out there that it would be easy to overlook Looper. Not on my watch. Being a huge sci-fi fan Looper stood out and stuck with me. The time travel premise is true to form in confusing the viewers, with one moment in particular springing to mind, but the fact that it is confusing shouldn’t put you off giving Looper a go. Incredibly underwatched and extremely underrated Looper evidences quality storytelling with great characters. Although confusing at times it is seriously refreshing to step away from the studio obsession with sequels and endulge our inner film fanatic that tries something different.
Right then this should be fun.
What is a ‘Looper’? The year is 2044 and time travel hasn’t been invented yet. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper, a hired gun for the mob who have harnessed the potential of time travel to fulfil a very specific purpose. When a target from the future needs to be ‘dealt’ with they are sent back to 2044 where Joe, blunderbuss in hand waits patiently for their arrival.
Employment as a Looper is anything but risk free and soon Joe is battling with his future self when he fails to close his loop. When the mob wants to terminate a Looper’s contract in the present day (2044) they close the loop by sending the future version back to 2044 to be killed by their past self. In the case of Joe things turn out a little differently. When his future self arrives in front of him his hands aren’t tied and his head isn’t hooded. A surge of intrigue takes over and Joe soon finds himself on the wrong end of Bruce Willis’ fist. Waking up to the realisation that the entire criminal underworld will be searching for you because you failed to close your loop would be a pretty daunting experience. We are soon shown why this brief moment of hesitation on the part of Joe has the potential to redirect the future.
Old Joe doesn’t just seek survival upon his journey back to 2044 as we see with Seth’s (Paul Dano) loop earlier in the film. Instead he arrives with his own motivation to alter the future in order to save his wife. Looper is so much more than a science fiction thriller. There is an undercurrent theme of love that carries throughout the film and eventually swells in the closing stages. Old Joe seeks to save his wife and Young Joe becomes imbroiled in Old Joe’s scheme to prevent the existence of a figure known as ‘The Rainmaker’ who in 2074 has taken over the mob and is closing all the loops in 2044. The motivation for this scheme is unknown and viewers can speculate based on a number of different hints dropped thoughout, such as he has a synthetic jaw, and he saw his mother shot, and so on but nothing is fully explained and a lot is left to the viewer to question.
What is evident is Looper truly has the potential to confuse the viewer most notably because of the time travel element and once you begin to piece bits together things have the potential to become less clear. With the discussion of multiple loops it becomes difficult to distinguish the original present from the present shown to us. We assume that 2044 is the present but because time travel is invented in 2074 and that Joe is knowledgable of this fact it proves that the present is actually 2074. Therefore, 2044 is the past and two separate timelines, or loops, exist simultaneously. For a more in depth explanation as to the loops business and how it all fits together follow this link but be warned of lurking spoilers, I’d suggest watching it first and then following up on your questions after. http://goo.gl/8rVGLr
I think Looper should be removed from its expectant burden as a box office release with huge publicity because it is too confusing for a modern audience who want to be spoon fed the plot with full closure. I’m not saying I understood Looper the first, or even second time round but I’d happily watch it again and I have spent a considerable amount of time researching explanations and theories in order to understand a few bits and pieces. This is not something I would usually do, I like trying to work things out for myself but oddly enough a little bit of research, even if it only goes as far as watching an interview with Rian Johnson your viewing pleasure will be greatly enhanced with a little more understanding and a lot less “can we pause?” moments.
With sociological questions and challenges to morality Looper isn’t just a confusing sci-fi flick disguised as action. My love of sci-fi has a huge say in this rating but it is definitely a Must-see and if like me you enjoy a good mind bender with a generous dose of time travel and a stellar cast then Looper is well worth a go and should not be missed.
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