‘Looper’ blends genres and styles to create something fresh
Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Rian Johnson
It is tempting to write that it does not get any better than a new film from Rian Johnson starring seemingly everybody’s favourite actor of the past couple years, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as well as Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. However, last week saw the publication of my review for The Master, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, and so to not contradict one’s self, suffice to say that a new Rian Johnson film is reason to get excited. Like the aforementioned Anderson, Johnson is never in a rush to make his projects. Brothers Bloom, his second effort, premiered at TIFF four years ago after all. Another similarity between the two directors is that each new project brings a new challenge to the fold. It is always different from the last and typically different from the rest of what arrives in theatres. Johnson’s latest, Looper, continues that very trend.
The year is 2044, the place is the United States. As the film’s protagonist, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), explains in a voice over during the opening scenes, time travel has not been invented yet. However, in a unique twist of fate, voyaging through time is possible 30 years from then, although its most prominent utility is far more nefarious than altruistic. Gangsters are sending clandestine hit targets back in time to be liquidated by loopers, ordinary guns for hire equipped with blunderbusses, large handheld cannons made for power rather than accuracy. Joe happens to be one such looper, earning a respectable living by killing people he does not know, partying at night with colleagues like Seth (Paul Dano) and trying to get closer to the apple of his eye, Suzie (Piper Perabo). A looper’s career always comes to an unpleasant end however, as the individual’s older self is kidnapped 30 years in the future and sent back into time to be killed by none other than that person’s younger self. Allowing one’s older self to escape creates an unexpected rift in the process and makes the looper’s employer, mob boss Abe (Jeff Daniels), very angry. Be that as it may, Joe is caught off guard for an instant the day he comes face to face with his older self (Bruce Willis), an instant which allows Joe senior to flee his execution. Now, the 2044 Joe must track down and destroy himself, literally, before Abe finds him, all the while his older self in serach of a young boy who, thirty years in the future, will have a huge impact on all of their lives.