Looper, the sci-fi thriller/detective story, is like being mugged emotionally. At first it’s all, “Gimme your wallet,” and then you’re all, “I don’t even have any money,” and it’s all, “Then gimme your watch,” and you’re all, “But my grandfather gave it to me!” and then it shoots you in the face, metaphorically speaking. Also in this metaphor, “wallet” and “watch” equal “mind” and “sense of well-being.” I left the theaters feeling beautifully violated.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the titular (*snicker*) Looper, whose job it is to kill and dispose of bodies sent back in time from a future where time-travel has been outlawed and only the mob has access to the technology. There’s more to it than that, but the movie explains it way better than I could. Plus I don’t want to spoil anything. The best part about this film is the director, Rian Johnson, who also made the wonderful movies Brick and The Brothers Bloom, comes at you from every possible direction at once. I found myself often getting tangled up in anticipating where he was going to hit me next. It was like being in a prize fight where the audience gets to throw bricks at the combatants. To spoil that sensation of your mental feet leaving the pavement would be an atrocity of movie reviewing on my part. So I’ll just shut up about the plot already.
Looper is a dark movie. There is an undercurrent to it that catches you off-guard. The beauty of it is, Johnson never spoon-feeds you anything. He just opens the door and says “Look at this. Why do you think THAT is happening?” and then allows the horror of it to dawn on you. And each step down that path to understanding unlocks another stressor that will act on you for the rest of the film. He gives you a truly horrific worst-case scenario early on, so you can spend the next two acts expecting something equally bad to happen. But then he adds another. And another. And another. Looper is an exercise in composite anxiety. The good kind.
I don’t want you to think there is nothing wrong with this film. That’s not the case. There are huge plot-holes in the third act that I can’t discuss at all, and then there is the matter of JGL’s nose. They are trying to get me to suspend my disbelief enough to allow for time-traveling hitmen from the future on hoverbikes, but they don’t think I’ll buy Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis without a bad prosthetic nose and tranny makeup? Ridiculous! I’ll believe it. Just tell me its the same dude. The obvious non-JGL of JGL’s face was enough to knock me out of the story every time they showed it. It was like trying to secure a business loan from a topless woman. I’ve seen Hesher, yo. I KNOW that’s not what he looks like.
It also stars Emily Blunt, my favorite British Lady ever. It took me a minute to figure out it was her, with her light hair and weirdly spotty Southern Accent, but sure enough underneath all that unnecessary complexity was MY Emily. Sigh. The thing with Looper is that it, unlike Dredd from last week, takes time off from its action to give the characters a chance to “become” something else. Yes, that guy is a murderer…but he’s not always a murderer. Sometimes he’s just a guy who made bad choices along the way. A lot of Looper‘s themes are about dealing with the repercussions of actions. A topic that hits close to home, especially on a day where I ate a whole medium pizza by myself for dinner.
Looper is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. That’s not me being hyperbolic either. For reals. Easily in the top 5. You should totally go.