What he said:


Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe. Joe is a hitman for the mafia. Bruce Willis also plays a man named Joe, who used to be a hitman for the mafia. Hey wait a minute, what’s going on here? I’ll tell you what. They’re playing the same character and that can only mean one thing: time travel!!!

In the year 2074 time travel is invented, but then immediately outlawed. I guess I can see why. Changing history could be kind of dangerous. Another little piece of technology that’s been invented is the ability to track a human being. The movie never came right out and said there was a Big Brother type of government in the future, but it strongly implied it with all this talk of being able to very easily track a specific individual. As a result of this, the mafia is very interested in time travel and controls this black market enterprise. You see, whenever a criminal organization needs to get rid of a body, they send it back 30 years into the past where a looper (hitman) takes care of it. They kill the person and dispose of the body; leaving absolutely no evidence of their existence.


Joe is one of these loopers and generally seems to enjoy his job. He does minimal work and gets paid handsomely for it. During his time the U.S. has plunged into an economic and social abyss. All the big cities are little more than big toilets. People will rob one another out in plain sight and not think twice about it. So, becoming a looper is one of the more financially stable options.  When not working, most of them seem to spend their money on booze, drugs, and women; at a club their boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) owns. Things seem to be going well for Joe when one day his target is none other than an older version of himself.  This catches Joe off guard and he hesitates just long enough for his older self (Bruce Willis) to get away. This doesn’t go over well with Joe’s employer. The next thing he knows, he’s on run from them, but also still trying to take care of his older self. Along the way he meets up with a woman named Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). He’s forced himself on them while hiding out from his employer. It’s only a matter of time before him and old Joe meet up again and when they do he puts the two of them in harm’s way.

Looper is an intriguing movie. The storyline alone interests me. I am a nerd and thus obligated to at least inquire about movies that center around nerdy things, such as time travel. Combine that with a very slick crime thriller and you get Looper. The movie is futuristic, yet retro. It’s a legit science fiction movie, but also a worthy mob movie to boot; which are not necessarily two genres you’d think would work well together. Imagine Breaking Bad (reviews here and here) or Drive (review here) combined with time travel. It sounds weird, but totally works. It’s an intriguing, intelligent, and gritty character study. It’s worthy of praise it’s received.  

The acting was solid as well. Both men did a good job at playing the same character at different points in their lives. Both are very desperate,  but different, despite being the same person. The dynamic between them is fun to watch. Emily Blunt was also very good as this innocent bystander caught up in this conflict. Newcomer Pierce Gagnon definitely held his own in a cast full of veterans. Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels, and the rest of the supporting cast were all good as well. An all-around solid movie.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on October 9, 2012.


What she said:


Just so you know, by the year 2044 our world is going to be in the crapper.  At least, so is the world that is presented in the futuristic sci-fi thriller, Looper.  We are introduced to urban America 30 years in the future, and it’s not pretty.  People are driving crummy old cars, rigged up haphazardly to run off alternative fuel, there’s homelessness in spades, and drugs and illegal conduct are everywhere.  It’s a nasty, nasty place, and one that Joe Simmons makes the best of. He’s actually got a decent career.  It’s not exactly legal, and appears to be mafia run, but he makes a living. 


You see, Joe is a looper.  Brace yourself as I explain this.  A looper is a hired assassin, but he doesn’t really kill people from today’s world.  No, he shows up in a designated place and time so that he can knock off people sent back from 30 years in the future.  Let me further elaborate, time travel has been invented in the future, but is also illegal.  It’s also too easy in the future to track mob hits, and so the criminal underbelly sends people back to 2044 so that they can be quietly knocked off and all evidence of their existence erased.  Assassins like Joe are paid well for their work, typically in silver bars that they pile away for later use.  For an increasing number of loopers, they’re having their loop closed aka the mob is sending back their future selves to be killed, ending their contract and freeing them from their work.  Many loopers approach this as a moment of celebration.  They’re paid handsomely and then spend the next 30 years living off their earnings knowing that they’ll eventually be captured and sent back to be knocked off.  Considering how hopelessly addicted most loopers are to drugs and crime, they don’t really seem to give a crap about the fact that their deaths are inevitable. 

And then there’s the worst case scenario for a looper, and that’s when you don’t successfully execute your kill.  Consider yourself dead if that happens.  Joe knows this.  And so, when his day comes, and he botches killing his future self, he panics.  Joe must close the loop successfully or both his future and current self will be killed.  The movie follows him from there, as he seeks to right his wrongs, and also begins to discover the true complexities of what he’s become involved with.


That’s your basic synopsis.  There’s actually a lot more to this movie.  I’m not going to explain it all to you for a couple of reasons—I’m lazy and part of the fun of the movie is figuring things out.  Believe me, you don’t want to be told all of what’s going on in Looper.  The movie is very complex, and forces you to think about mind boggling stuff, like time paradoxes.  Ugh, it’s enough to give me a headache, but it’s a worthwhile headache, I assure you.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is transformed into young Joe.  By transformed, I mean that he’s made to look like a younger version of old Joe aka Bruce Willis.  It’s pretty bizarre to look at.  I’ll be honest, there are times in the movie when Gordon-Levitt looks better than others.  His make-up and prosthetics can become a little distracting.  I kept asking myself, “Why is he wearing lipstick.”  It turns out that not even his lips were real, as a lot of work had to be done to make him look more similar to Willis.  Overall, I’d say they did a good job, though.  Just be prepared to ignore some lips and eyebrows.  Vocally and through is demeanor, Gordon-Levitt rocks it as a younger Willis.  You can tell he really took the role seriously.  Funny that he’s the one impersonating Willis and not the other way around, since it’s Gordon-Levitt who has more screen time in the film.  Willis, as the old Joe, puts in a solid performance as well, going back and forth between being somewhat likable and completely irrational. 

Looper has pretty tight writing and a plot that will keep you interested.  Some of the elements of our future world are silly, including the weaponry.  However, there are enough thrills and thoughtful notions in this film to make you overlook its few shortcomings.  It’s going to take me at least another week to fully digest all of what I’ve seen, and so I’m not prepared to speak yet on the deeper meaning of the movie.  Like I said before, it’s complex.  But you’ll walk away from the movie feeling entertained and fully satisfied.

Thumbs up.