Hands down Looper may be the best film I’ve seen this year. It may also be one of the best, most complex science fiction films I’ve seen in awhile. The premise from the trailers is simple enough to follow, but as the film progresses things get far more complicated. Heroes become Villains. Villains become heroes. There’s shades of grey in just about everyone we encounter. No character, supporting or otherwise comes off as trivial or wasted. And every plot point is planned out to a T.The movie works on just about every level.
To give a brief synopsis, the film is set in Kansas City in 2044. 30 years into the future time travel is invented, and then outlawed. But it’s used by crime syndicates to dispose of unwanted people. In the present time (2044), there are hired assassins called Loopers, who wait for the targets to appear, hooded, and then they blow them away, dispense with the bodies in an incinerator, and collect bars of silver as payment which are attached to the back of the victims. When a looper is finished with their duty, it’s called closing the loop. The loopers older self is sent back to the past where their young self has to blow them away. After that, the younger self is payed in gold bars and is basically set with the knowledge they will have only 30 years of life to live before the syndicate finds them and sends them back to be killed. Well, in the case of the looper Joe, (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Old Joe appears, only to make his escape, and when a looper lets their older self escape, there are serious consequences worse than death.
THAT is all you need to know going into this film. As the rest of the movie unfolds, the story gets a tighter grip around you. There is so much more that goes on at a bigger scale. The characters are motivated for their own selfish reasons, Old Joe’s being in the name of love. But what he does to fight for those memories leads to devastating consequences. Because one of the most interesting aspects of the film is that the more young Joe changes his destiny, the more Old Joe’s memories change and the life he lived starts to become hazy and non existent. The biggest thing that wasn’t expecting with this film was how dark it turned out to be. Seriously, if you always thought of Bruce Willis as a solid action hero, you may never look at him the same way again after this film. What he does here is quite shocking and its unlike any character he’s played before.
Joseph Gordon-Levett is equally just as good. Actually, he’s amazing in this. As the chaos builds to the final moments of the film, the moment Joe understands what’s happening, everything about that moment plays right. There are also some great supporting actors here, with Jeff Daniels playing Abe, a mob boss sent from the future to monitor the loopers in the present. There is also Emily Blunt, a farm woman who lives with her son…and her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon) is not only a phenomenal child actor, this 6 year old kid goes to some incredible frightening places.
I can’t talk more about this film without going into spoilers, so later next week I will see it again and go into full on spoiler mode. But really, I kid you not, next to Moonrise Kingdom, this film may be on top of my list as one of the best movies of 2012. See it in a theater. Do not miss it!