LOOPER. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. Dirceted by Rian Johnson. 118 minutes. Rated MA 15+ (Strong violence).
Almost at once, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Joe, explains what a Looper is and we see vividly how he works. It is 2044 in a futuristic Kansas where gangsters prevail and people live in fear. We also learn that time travel had not been invented but in the 2070s it had and been banned – one of the effects was that it was used as an underground (perhaps more ‘undertime’) by the new mafia to send victims back to 2044 where loopers await their arrival, shoot them and then burn their bodies while they keep the silver bars that accompanied those to be killed.
Joe has no qualms about his profession. He dresses in a dapper suit and tie style, has been secreting silver for himself, is a man about town. However, he is dependent on eye drops which enhance his perceptions. When his close friend, Seth (Paul Dano) confides that his future self has returned and he could not bring himself to kill him, Joe hides him but is summoned by his boss and patron, Abe (Jeff Daniels as a persuasive heavy) to betray Seth.
Then, Joe’s older self arrives in the form of Bruce Willis. To kill or not to kill. In the meantime we have been shown how Joes has survived the thirty years from 2044, gone to China, met his wife, is still addicted to his eye drops, but has been attacked so that the Rainmaker (the ruthless boss of the future) can close Joe’s loop by sending him back to his death.
We are also introduced to Sarah (Emily Blunt) who lives on a corn farm with her son, Cyd. Younger Joe takes refuge with her from Abe’s shooters. Since the older Joe has brought a mysterious number and a map back from the future, Joe is able to work out what his older self’s mission is – (shades of The Terminator movies) to kill the child who will grow into the Rainmaker.
This leads to some tense and some action sequences as older Joe confronts Abe and his henchman and then pursues Cyd – leading to the younger Joe having to make some moral decisions.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has become one of Hollywood’s most dependable character actors (Inception, 50/50, Dark Knight Rises). Emily Blunt is effective in a strong and different action role. We have seen Bruce Willis do this kind of this before, but he does it well.
The production design is imaginative for a dingy future. There are some moments of special effects, especially the rising of the characters and the corn to be suspended in the air at the end. Speaking of the end, it is very quiet, almost imperceptible after the drama and the action.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out September 27, 2012.