What happens when you come face-to-face with your future self? What if you have to kill him/her? What if, there’s no other way out? ‘Looper’ is a bit of all that!
‘Looper’ is essentially a time-travel film. Sure, it has its inconsistencies. However, if one can overlook the logical aspect, it’s an enjoyable film. Tries to become thought-provoking in the end, but the move doesn’t work. Still, notwithstanding the relatively long-duration, the film will find its takers.
Kansas, 2044 – United States has suffered severe economic collapse, causing immense growth in organized crime. Also, a mutation has occurred in about a small chunk of the population giving them telekinetic powers, i.e. the ability to levitate small objects.
Now 30 years into the future (2074), time travel has been invented, but is immediately outlawed. Since tracking technology has made it increasingly difficult to get rid of corpses secretly, crime bosses resort to time travel to send those who they want killed to the past. For this task, they have hired ‘loopers’. Loopers are assassins who receive silver bars for killing people. However, whenever these crime lords wish to end a looper’s contract, they send his future self back to be killed by his younger self. This, in their terminology, is called ‘closing the loop’. If the looper fails to kill his assigned target, he faces death sentence.
Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for a mafia company in Kansas as a looper. The group ‘Gat Men’, which he is a part of, is controlled by Abe (Jeff Daniels). Abe has been sent from the future to manage the loopers. Joe’s friend Seth (Paul Dano) is faced with the calamity of having to close his loop. Seth hesitates on finding out that his target behind the mask is his future self. Seth’s older self mentions the Rainmaker, a criminal who has taken over organized crime in the future and is closing all loops. Seth dies, but Joe is faced with the same predicament sometime later. Circumstances get him to come face-to-face with his future self (played by Bruce Willis). He learns a bit (older Joe doesn’t reveal much) about his future. While the younger Joe wants to close his own loop to not draw the ire of Abe and his trusted looper ‘Kid Blue’ (Noah Segan), the older Joe is on a bigger mission. He is out to kill the Rainmaker, who has wreaked havoc in 2074. While his heart does wrench while he’s killing kids, he finds solace in the fact that he is doing this so that he can get his wife, of Chinese-origin, Summer Qing (Qing Xu) back to life. The rest of the film is about the cat-and-mouse game played by the younger Joe and the older Joe. Meanwhile, they are being chased by Abe’s men. There’s a map which has the names of the children who were born on the same day as the Rainmaker. There are three options. The younger Joe has a cut-out of a map which takes him to Sara’s farmhouse. Sara lives with her son, Cid. Cid goes on to play an important part in the film. You’ll have to watch the film to know what happens next.
There are quite a few plot holes in the screenplay. The biggest one, perhaps, occurs during the climactic scene of the film. So, bear in mind that although the film tackles a unique subject and presents it wonderfully, it leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions. The kid, Cid, is turned into an evil caricature in the latter half of the film. The almost-supernatural elements that were brought in thanks to the evolved telekinetic techniques, somehow, take the sheen off the film. Whether he is the younger version of Joe or not, is for you to find out!
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis share a lot of scenes. The restaurant scene where Bruce selectively tells his own younger version about his future is sheer brilliance. The background score along with the lone single add a lot of impact to the film. Another laudable thing about the film was the way it portrayed '2044' and ‘2074’. It was very realistic, a welcome change compared to recent films like 'Dredd 3D', 'Total Recall' etc. Yes, there were a few unique gizmos, but nothing over-the-top! Let’s overlook the objects levitating bit!
The concept of the film, very similar to Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’, is a novel one. Time-travel can be a tricky subject. Director Rian Johnson handles it pretty well. The idea of an individual in conflict with his future-self is, without doubt, very fascinating. The length could have been much shorter than 120 minutes. The second-half of the film drags a bit. Does it make you buy the concept of time-travel? Yes. Does it work as a part of a 2-hour-long film? No. If you look at the concept, the acting, the music, the action and the direction, does it merit a one-time-watch? Maybe!
It all boils down to whether you believe in the concept or not. ‘Inception’ received extreme reviews. Some hated it, some loved it, and everyone ‘pretended’ to understand it! ‘Looper’ comes from the same school of thought. It’s not a film that will be liked by everyone.