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‘This generation’s Matrix’, a tagline that has been banded about since Looper‘s release. Heavy shoulders then for this film, and one which Looper relishes from the get go. Helmed by the talented Rian Johnson, whose previous credits include the intricate Brick and Brothers Bloom, the origins of Looper’s story came about over ten years ago, incensed about Brick being ignored for financing, Johnson instead focused on a much shorter story. Although somewhat padded out at times, this is only a minor gripe; the short format being encapsulated from the first half of the film, leaving Looper snappy, intense, and succinct.
Looper starts with ruthless intensity, Joe (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) stands with a shotgun pointing to a white sheet in a field somewhere in Kansas, boom arrives a person cuffed and with a bag over their head. Bigger boom, he’s dead. Next scene, same consequences boom another is dead, which then leads onto the explanation from Joe himself, narrating his very existence. Joe is a ‘looper’, he receives bodies from the future of 2074 and kills them in the present of 2044. The reason for this is that the government in 2074 have, with new technology, made disposing of people nearly impossible for crime lords of the future, and with it have also outlawed the technology of time travel, leading to assassins in the past being utilised to dispose of bodies from the future. Paid handsomely but with the catch that they must ‘close their loops’ meaning they must dispose of their future selves (as they have too much knowledge of their employees) and so in effect put in place a thirty year countdown ticking down on their own life. When Joe meets his older self, played by Bruce Willis, he inadvertently evades execution and must track him down to rectify his mistake.
From watching the trailer, I had assumed that this would be a simple affair, young Joe accidentally lets older Joe go, then a catch and chase film. Instead what I was treated to was a mature film that kept me guessing where the plot was next heading to. One that did not try to explain everything over and over again to hammer the details down. Similar to Inception it assumed a concentrated audience and for that it deserves to be applauded. Ultimately the introduction of Emily Blunt’s character changes the tone of the whole film and looking back it changes it for the better, it slows the rapid pace down to a more manageable one, without losing the boldness of the opening sequences. The style and look of Looper are to be praised as well, the future of 2044 is bleak and the CGI is kept to a minimum (a good thing), the futuristic setting barely being used in the latter half of the film, which takes place in a setting that could well be the 1920’s, if not for the odd robot harvester popping up.
In all this is a very enjoyable with entertaining scenes of Bruce Willis displaying his ‘Die Hard’ attitude of old, as well as a great performance from the always enjoyable Joseph Gordon-Levitt, building on his reputation; I certainly did not anticipate him pulling off the ‘Bruce Willis’ character, but he did and with some conviction. The end is built up well and is a fitting crescendo to a hugely entertaining and interesting film.