Entertainment

This Movie Might Throw You for a Loop

entertainment-looperJoseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis both star as Joe Simmons, a hit man, or more appropriately, a Looper, in the movie Looper. Sim­mons executes former agents of the mob from the future year of 2074 so that there is no body, and more im­portantly, no evidence in their own time. Time travel is illegal in the future, but like our present, the mob has their ways around the law.

When the mob decides to termi­nate a Looper’s employment, they send the Looper’s future self back to Joe’s present year, 2044, to be executed, along with enough gold for the Looper to live out the rest of their days, until they are sent back to the past. Most targets arrive masked, but when one shows up late and without the usual covering, Joe realizes he’s been told to execute his future self. He hesitates, allow­ing his future self to get away and putting his current life on the line. He must eliminate his future self but also dodge other agents who are sent to eliminate both Joes.

Along with the two Joes, there’s also Sara (Emily Blunt), her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon), and Kid Blue (Noah Segan), another agent and Joe’s rival for the affections of their father figure, Abe (Jeff Daniels) who was sent by the mob from the future to help begin the Looper organiza­tion, and gave Joe a reason for liv­ing.

Confusing? So is the movie. But if you follow the plot and listen care­fully, you’ll walk away quite satisfied by the tale of this hit man, although you’ll probably guess the ending coming from a mile away. The film is directed and written by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) who gives us an above-average action film for those who like movies that make them think. The main character is more prone to reaction than action; this is an interesting idea, and thanks to Levitt’s performance, an idea that is pulled off without shortchanging young Joe’s character.

The movie is well paced, which allows the audience to digest what they are seeing and hearing. Levitt narrates sporadically throughout the film about the world he lives in and about what a Looper is supposed to do. The audience learns from him not only about the Loopers but also that ten percent of the population are telekinetic, something that Johnson uses as a small plot device that hints at things to come and the audience witnesses what a Looper does at the same time.

Levitt’s performance emphasizes how Willis plays the older Joe. Willis is no superhero and there are no one liner’s in site. Levitt’s Joe begins to show his soul towards the middle of the movie, but Willis’s Joe shows him using that newfound soul for less-than-heroic purposes. The older Joe is a man who uses the knowledge of his past to save his future in the name of love, even though he can never go back, but at least his younger self will grow up in a much better future. Younger Joe doesn’t see it that way, believing that if he kills his future self, Abe will call off his dogs right away. As he unravels what his older self is really there for and becomes involved in the lives of Sarah and Cid, he realizes that there are more lives at stake than his.

Sarah and Cid are a broken fam­ily that the audience grows to care about. It’s nice to see Blunt play a broken instead of wholesome char­acter and Pierce Gagnon is probably one of the best child actors I’ve seen in some time. Johnson thankfully gives him a role that isn’t a wise-guy or one that is a total brat. He gives us a kid who’s seen more than he should and could either get worse or better depending on the choices that Joe makes. The brat part is saved for Kid Blue, but Segan also plays him with frustration and resentment as he sees how much of a comraderie his boss has with a lowly Looper compared to his higher rank.

While Willis is definitely a great action star, Looper is Levitt’s movie through and through. By two Joe’s being in the same time period and on the same screen, not only is the audience trying to piece the puzzles together, but they do so right along young Joe. The audience can see there is more to him than he lets on and when old Joe enters the picture, the audience sees the fully formed personality of old Joe confronting the empty shell of his younger days. In a way, the audience is watching Joe grow up into a mature man who realizes that even the most ordinary person can change lives.

The movie is just under two hours so it doesn’t overstay its welcome too much. To delete some sequences would make the film seem to lose some of itself in the process. The movie rolls along pretty fast, slowing down at the right time for the audi­ence to become absorbed into the world that young Joe lives through and the world Old Joe thrusts himself into. Director Johnson uses camera tricks to make the audience feel they are part of the unfolding story.

As I walked out, I overheard some moviegoers say they didn’t under­stand the movie. Indeed, you have to really pay attention. To me it wasn’t a chore, it just added to the experi­ence of the movie. Despite this, the ending is sadly predictable. Keep in mind, the movie isn’t always about the ending, it’s how the characters get to that ending.

I highly recommend this film. It’s not great but it’s very interest­ing. Fans of action and science fic­tion will enjoy the experience. Even people who prefer more intellectual movies should be satisfied by what they see on screen and how much there is to follow.

Special notice must go to the great makeup job done to Levitt. He and Bruce Willis really look like they could be the same person from different times.

This is only Johnson’s third di­rectorial effort but after seeing this movie, I think it’s time for this man to jump to the big leagues. He’s done a wonderful job with this in­dependent feature; let’s see what he can do with a studio picture.