MOVIE MADNESS #91: LOOPER

If time travel was possible, would you go back in time and kill Hitler as a child? In the movie, “Looper”, time travel poses so many questions not yet explored and its that ingenuity that makes it one of the more interesting sci-fi films to come around in a while.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Joe, a hitman with a catch. Joe is what they call a looper, a hitman who kills mafia targets sent back in time for assassination.

The gagged and bound target shows up, the looper blasts them with a shotgun, they flip over the target and collect their bars of silver strapped to the target’s back.

It’s simple, no trace of the body, easy money and no consequences.

Well, that isn’t exactly true. The looper lives his career with the burden that one day one of those targets might be himself.

And the only way to know is when they are paid in gold bars opposed to silver. Then they know they have 30 years from that day to live their life to the fullest. This is called closing the loop.

It’s a complicated plot and gets even more complicated when Joe meets his older self (Bruce Willis) and older Joe has a plan to take out the head of the future mafia organization known as the Rainmaker.

Good time travel movies are hard to pull off. The internal logic in them has to be very sound and using the premise has to deeply affect the characters involved. The best time travel movies include “Back to the Future”, “Time After Time”, “TimeCop”, “Terminator” and the indie favorite “Primer”.

These films use time travel as not a gimmick but the means to tell a story. They also produce paradoxes but these flaws don’t matter because you are so engaged in the story.

It is when the story folds back on itself and the central theme becomes convoluted that films like these can fall apart. This plagued the sequels to “Back to the Future” and “Terminator”.

“Looper” sticks to its central story and even though there are lots of paradoxes as an audience we don’t really care because the internal logic of the film is still there. This is the brilliance of the film.

The performance from JGL and Bruce Willis are incredible. I liked how we were able to see both side of their story completely. The film could have just had Bruce Willis tell his former self what happens but they actually show it. And that holds more resonance. In some ways I felt more sorry for the older version of Joe than the younger.

For the whole film, JGL was made up to look like a younger version of Bruce Willis. It is hard to tell where the makeup ends and JGL begins. There are moments where a look or a cringe feels like Bruce Willis but I never fully grasped JGL as a younger Willis at first. But when you put out of your mind that the JGL’s makeup is to represent a man who might grow up to be Bruce Willis not an exact copy (Because we do know what Bruce looked like 30 years ago, hello Moonlighting) then it all comes together.

I am puzzled to why they didn’t just have JGL play both roles. But from what I gather Willis was actually cast first.

“Looper” is a really brave and bold look at time travel. It is an interesting film that you will be talking about hours and hours after the film concludes. And it is definitely one of the best time travel films out there.

4.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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