Picture the future. Flying cars, a Big Brother government and personal identification systems that leave you waking up in a cold sweat. This is the artistic license adopted by most sci-fi movies with no imagination and little originality. ‘Looper’ is a rare type of sci-fi praised and encouraged by fans of the genre, where the film chooses to focus on the people of the future and their place in that most foreign and soulless world.
In 2005, writer/director Rian Johnson made his feature film debut with the brilliant ‘Brick’. But was it beginner's luck? Seven years on, Johnson’s third picture has a lot more money to play with, a bigger audience, bigger stars and, once again, he’s bringing his golden boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt along for the ride.
Set in 2044, the world is 30 years out from the invention of Time Travel. Once invented, it’s immediately outlawed but still utilised by the criminal world as a way of disposing of undesirable people. They zap them back to the “present” where a group known as “Loopers” finish them off and receive a tidy pay-packet for their troubles. One day Joe (Gordon-Levitt) receives his assignment - but who should zap in before him but his future self (Bruce Willis). Love is definitely lost between these two, because nothing about this film is typical; they don’t partner up to become a buddy-cop duo and they certainly don’t swap notes about what’s to come. They each have their own agenda and neither involves “hugging it out”. The film turns into a three-way cat-and-mouse routine, with a mother and son living the quiet farm life until Joe walks into their lives. An action-packed, thrilling, energetic brain-feast that makes you bear witness to a man trying to track and outsmart his own self. How often have you seen that!?
Gordon-Levitt keeps going from strength to strength.
Johnson has a knack for taking an audience's preconceived notions and expectations and flipping them in the most startling, confronting and thought-provoking way. He also inspires stunning performances by his cast, including a most surprising turnout by Willis who, let's face it, has been phoning it in for at least the last five years. Gordon-Levitt keeps going from strength to strength, really sinking into the Willis doppelganger role with the aid of truly uncanny prosthetic make-up. Emily Blunt is fabulous as always and just makes every frame she occupies sparkle. But the serious OMG shout-out belongs to child actor Pierce Gagnon, who goes from the whip-smart, adorable Cid to the scariest, most knee-shaking character you’ve ever seen and back again in one smooth swoop.
This film is original, ambitious, intense and unexpected in every way. ‘Looper’ is a rare character driven sci-fi story, a key element that is often missed by the genre's filmmakers. Johnson is one of the most unique and exciting filmmakers, with a very strong touch of the Christopher Nolans. He is one to watch, and so is ‘Looper’.