Films involving time travel usually have the capacity to completely confuse me. Twelve Monkes, for example, is a film I've watched umpteen times and still can't quite get my head around it. Similarly, Inception was a film that spun me out and made me really think about the difference between reality and possibility. Imagine my trepidation then, when the stars of each of these two, Bruce Willis and Jospeh Gordon Levitt, combine to play the same person in this film which threatens to loop my mind to madness.
The film wastes no time in getting right to the crux of the content. Levitt plays Joe, a young man who is a Looper, someone who is employed to kill people sent back in time to a parrticular time and place for a simple execution, using a blunderbuss to the head. You see, in the future, when time travel will be invented, disposing of bodies is virtually impossible. So those wishing to do so sending live bodies back in time instead. Mob boss Abe has gone back in time to organise things from the present, and the person repsonsible for deciding who gets sent back and killed from the future, the Rain Maker, sorts things from that end. When Joe's future self gets sent back, a slight hesitation is all it needs for time travel chaos to ensue.
The key thing here for me, and what swung this film in favour or a thumbs up, is in how Levitt plays Joe to make him look like a younger Bruce Willis. Perhaps laziness on the elder actor's part, but the younger one does a phenomenal job of it, and I thought this was the stand out element of the film. As it progresses and small little bits of the plot's minor twists sink into place, the action takes over, but the first part of the film is definitely filled with plot development and a director's attempts to make something complicated relatively simple. I'm not sure what script Rian Johnson had to work with at the start, but the film certainly ends up being one of the more understandable ones of its genre.
Plenty of budget has been sent towards the action scenes in this one, with plenty of effective special effects balanced out with some good acting, and the inclusion of a futuristic telekinesis engrained in certain people. The scenes where this is demonstrated are particularly well done, as are those where the minimal amount of sound is used to great effect. There's a danger that a film like this will drop off and tail towards a disappointing finish, and while the middle parts veered towards doing so a couple of times, there was always something explosive or revealing to snap your attention back in just in time.
I wouldn't say this is a gem of a film, but much like Bruce Willis' films usually are, this is reliable entertainment that gives you most of the explanation without having to make you think. My fears over Twelve Monkeys and Inception were unfounded, and the inevitable bigger twist in the plot, while obvious to a certain extent, is not given any support until needed right towards the end, with other potential twists given chances to keep us honest. Certainly worth a watch even if it's not one to stand up and applaud.
Star - Bruce Willis
Genre - Sci-Fi
County - USA
Certificate - 18R
Run Time - 120 minutes
Blockbusters - £13.99 per night
Amazon - £13.99p DVD (£.0 Blue Ray)
You can't go wrong with time travel in the movies! You can go a little off kilter but generally they are good fun whatever they do with it. If you have a few gaping plot holes you simply blame a time paradox and forget about it. As time travel isn't possible because of those paradoxes the movie people can really bend the big screen rules. There is no better genre for the concept movie. A concept movie is, of course, built around a single idea that can be summed up in a single sentence: 'A man goes back in time to be killed by himself', the concept here.
The star is everyone's favorite Bruce Willis, returning to the time travel genre for the third time (by my recognition) and immediate echoes of '12 Monkeys' here, The Kid the other one I can recall. He is joined by rising star Joseph Gordon - Levitt, who is teaming up with director Rian Johnson, also for the third time, their previous movies that of the ober cool 'drugspolitation' movie 'Brick' and a bit part in The Brothers Grimm. Britain's gorgeous rising star Emily Blunt is the impressive token totty on show here.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... Joe
Bruce Willis ... Old Joe
Emily Blunt ... Sara
Paul Dano ... Seth
Frank Brennan ... Old Seth
Noah Segan ... Kid Blue
Piper Perabo ... Suzie
Jeff Daniels ... Abe
Pierce Gagnon ... Cid
Tracie Thoms ... Beatrix
It's the year 2044, the invention of time travel just thirty years away, which is immediately outlawed in the future for obvious reasons. But just as the internet has a secret coded world enjoyed by criminals so does time travel, exploiting its many benefits beyond the law. As the time loop technology can only send people back it's mostly used to dispose of bodies, people hard to hide in the future due to advanced flesh tagging technology. So when these organizations in the future need someone 'whacked', they use specialized assassins called "Loopers." The Gangsters 'bag and gag' the target and then zap them back to a Looper in 2044. The victim appears bound and gagged with a hood over their head at certain place at a certain time and immediately gunned down by the Looper as they appear. The Looper is rewarded with two ingots of silver wrapped around the body for every kill, and for the gangsters the target has vanished from the future, and technically does not exist anymore. Clean.
The job is extremely lucrative but has no retirement policy, a worry for all loopers. Eventually you grow old and the loop has to be closed, your old self sent back to when you were a young Looper and your unsuspecting self waiting there with a gun to kill the hooded delivery, this time the body covered in gold bars, your final payoff, the loop closed so the looper has no evidence that could incriminate the gangsters in the future. You then relive your life the older you has just finished, if you see what I mean.
Our Looper is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), working out of Kansas, who is building up a nice little nest egg to retire in the sun somewhere, but a drug habit eating into that. Joe's best mate Seth (Paul Dano) is about to close his loop, but fails to shoot his future self by unmasking the goods, meaning old Seth (Frank Brennan) is on the run in downtown Kansas, causing dangerous time paradoxes the longer he is on the run, meaning consequences for all. But old Seth has bought a message from the future. Someone called 'The Rainmaker' has taken over all the crime organizations and closing all their loops down in the future so they can never exist. Joe tries to hide younger Seth but soon pulled up by his boss Abe (Jeff Daniels). Abe has also come back from the future and runs things this end. But if Jo doesn't give him up Seth so is loop can be closed then Joe will come to an end and so lose all his saved up silver.
Three years later Joe's big day arrives and he successfully closes the loop, his victims head covered and so not aware who he was, until he finds the glitter of gold on the body. He now has the money to retire and so moves to Shanghai. But there's a catch. A rip in the space time continuum has been created by Seth's awareness of the rainmaker and that also effects Joe's life in the future, meaning he has come back as his older self (Bruce Willis) to correct the anomaly. Older Joe knows where his loop will be closed and so ready for his younger self as he goes after the Rainmaker in 2044. Yep, it's confusing.
Its good but there is something missing. I can't put my finger on it but its just not there. There have been better time travel movies that have gone before, even though this clearly is a clever idea for one. The director had been toying with the script and concept for eight years and so maybe he overcooked it with too much starch. Or, maybe, it's because Bruce Willis is starting to look old on screen and this felt like he had stepped straight out of 12 Monkeys into another movie, or, maybe, it's because there is no way in the world Joseph Gordon - Levitt can play an assassin. He always looks like he is going to faint on screen at the sight of blood. He also looks nothing like Bruce Willis. To me he will always be the naïve kid in the brilliant Third Rock from the Sun. He also looks like he is pinching all of Shia LeBouf's work.
The token totty of the beautiful Emily Blunt aside another added distraction was the ingredient of the 'TK' gene element, where 10% of the human population in 2044 are gifted with telekinetic abilities. I presume this was added late on to encourage a sequel but whatever the reason it didn't fit and kept pulling the film away from its intelligent premise. That aside it glides along nicely and pleasing makes you work hard on its confusing narrative and structured criminal hierarchies, rare to see a movie make you care for the bad guys. The action is not too over the top and the interest never wanes.
For its meager $30 million budget in these $200million dollar days for clever Sci-Fi film the look is fabulous and the screenplay great, but doing just $166 million back for its efforts. Because it wasn't pitched as an Inception type summer blockbuster event it didn't do the money it should have. Bruce Willis is currently over in the UK to plug Die Hard 5 and the fact he has done the moronic One Show and the likewise Talksport means his people are taking no chances with that one so to get the maximum amount of money back. It also means A Good Day to Die Hard is possibly stinker.
But Looper isn't and all good fun and if you like your time travel films then this is right up your street.
--- Top Twenty Cool Time Travel movies---
Back to the Future 1&2
Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure
The Time Machine
Peggy Sue Got Married
The Philadelphia Experiment
The Lake House
Planet of the Apes
It's a Wonderful Life
Imdb.com - 7.7/10.0 (171,956 votes)
Metacritc.com - 84% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 93% critic's approval rating
CNN.COM -'Yes, it's a B movie sci-fi thriller, but not many prestige pictures have this much going on underneath the surface'.
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH -'The movie is morally murky, to put it lightly, and that's a bit refreshing; we're made to think about why we want the protagonists to achieve their goals'.
THE BOSTON PHOENIX -'Is it derivative? Not really; just a reminder that cinema, like history, is on a continuous loop, forever repeating itself'.
THE NEWARK TIMES -'If the whole thing leaves you rubbing your temples, just',
NEW YORKER -'The reasoning behind all this may not reward prolonged inspection, but Johnson is smart enough to press onward with his plot, leaving us with neither the time nor the desire to linger over the logic ...'
THE INDEPENDENT -'While it sometimes feels like it's trying to do much, Looper manages to be a creditable and exciting sci-fi flick that homage's the past while carving out a unique identity'.
THE LA TIMES -'Much as he did in Brick, Johnson creates a carefully drawn world in Looper that exists by its own particular set of rules'.
= = = = = = = = Special Features = = = = = = = =
- Audio Commentary -
Cast & crew talk about their movie.
- Looper: The Future from the Beginning -
The director and writing team claim they wrote this film with Jo-Gordon Levitt in mind and he was suitably faltered.
- Scenery Looper -
The look and feel of the movie and the time traveling concept are explored here.
- Deleted Scenes -
With commentary if required
- Animated Trailer -
= = = = = = = = = = = =
About the film
Looper is a 2012 science fiction/ action film. The film has a rating of 15 due to language, violence, some sexuality and drug use. Looper has a run time of 119 minutes.
Set in the year 2044, time travel has not yet been invented. However, in 2074 it has. Time travel is illegal and only available on the black market. It's hard to kill someone and be rid of the evidence in 2074 so when the mob wants rid of someone, they send them back to 2044 where people called 'Loopers' are ready and waiting to shoot. They're paid in silver, strapped to the hooded body waiting to be killed.
Looper Joe loves his life. He has plenty of money and lives exactly how he wants to. When his future self is sent to him to be killed, he hesitates, giving future Joe enough time to escape. All targets must be killed and both Joe and his future self end up running for their lives, both of them wanting different outcomes.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe Simmons.
Bruce Willis as Old Joe
Emily Blunt as Sara Rollins
Paul Dano as Seth Richards
Noah Segan as Kid Blue
Piper Perabo as Sm. T
Jeff Daniels as Abe
Pierce Gagnon as Cid Harrington
Xu Qing as Old Joe's Wife
Tracie Thoms as Beatrix
Frank Brennan as Old Seth
What I thought
Although Looper is a film about time travel, the majority of the film is set in the past (2044). Something I really loved about this film was that the time in which it was set, was not too far ahead of where we are now. The futuristic world is not a million miles away from what we have now and instead of being a world unrecognisable, it pretty much just has some amped up technology and ways of enjoying yourself. The time travel aspect of the film, while a focal point of the plot, kind of takes a back seat. Unlike other time travel films, this one doesn't spend ages explaining how time travel works, why it works or anything else like it. Looper pretty much says time travel exists and that's it! It was refreshing to not have to sit through a long and drawn out explanation.
Protagonist Joe is a Looper, a man hired to kill people from the future with no questions asked. His targets are sent to him in a field, covered up from head to toe and a whole load of silver strapped to their backs. Joe is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who, I have to say has gotten pretty old looking compared to his days in films like 10 Things I Hate About You. I barely recognised him and would have had to look up who he was if I didn't already know he was in the film. As Joe, he's a pretty arrogant and full of himself kind of guy, knowing what he has in life is pretty damn good. He plays and parties hard, knowing he has a stash of silver which will cover anything he needs. Joe was a hard character to like to begin with because he was such an ass. However, things begin to chance when he is faced with killing his future self.
Joe from the future is played by Bruce Willis, who is in his element in this kind of film. We all know Willis is a great actor in action films and this one is no exception. Future Joe is completely different to regular Joe, due to having so much more life experience and knowing how the world really works. I really liked seeing the contrast between two characters who were actually the same. Future Joe, although still a hard ass, has reasons for changing his life, which Joe just cannot begin to understand, not having lived it for himself yet. My boyfriend and I also thought it would be pretty cool to know you'd turn into Bruce Willis when you grow up - it could be worse, couldn't it?!
As well as the chase between regular and future Joe, there was a pretty strange twist which I wasn't expecting. Telekinesis plays a large part in this film and future Joe knows that there will be one person who could change everything later on in life. Future Joe's goal is to stop this person from becoming what he is in the future although there's a slight problem. It could be one of three and all three are children during 2044. Although the whole telekinesis thing was quite strange, I liked the twist that it brought into the film. It also made the film about so much more than the two Joes.
Two other fantastic characters in Looper are Sara and Cid, played by Emily Blunt and Pierce Gagnon. Sara and Cid live on a farm way out in the middle of nowhere but regular Joe happens across them while on the run. Sara is immediately protective of her and her son, not wanting Joe to have anything to do them. The addition of these two characters bring in that something extra that this film needed to set it aside from other science fiction or action films. They add a bit of normality to the world created, as their life revolves around living on a farm. Sara and Cid also make it so that the scenery throughout the film isn't always set in the futuristic city.
While Looper was slightly confusing at times, it was extremely enjoyable. There are some great plot twists, a fantastic dialogue and the action scenes you would expect from Bruce Willis. This one will be getting a place in my DVD collection!
Looper is Rian Johnson's follow up to his school-noir Brick, a film that was mostly (and shamefully) ignored on release. Showing his versatility as a writer/director, it takes the same noir styling and applies it to a science fiction/future world.
The year is 2044. Time travel has not yet been invented, but in 2074 it has and is controlled by ruthless criminals who use it to eliminate enemies. They kidnap them and send them back to 2044 where a "Looper", a paid assassin kills them and disposes of the body, so that there is no evidence of the crime in the future. There's a catch, though. If a Looper is still alive in 2074, he is tracked down, kidnapped and sent to the past where he is eliminated by his past self in order to "close the loop" and remove any evidence of the murders.
If you are already confused and worried that Looper is going to one of those mind-blowingly complicated time travel films like Donnie Darko, rest easy. For a start, that brief plot summary tells you pretty much all you need to know about Looper. Secondly, the key elements are explained much better during the film's opening sequences. Looper has a veneer of complexity, but once you grasp the essential elements it is actually reasonably straightforward.
It's possibly fair to say that Looper never fully exploits its time travel idea as much as it might and is not always as convincing or coherent as it might be. It certainly skirts around things like time travel paradoxes which are a normally a staple of the science fiction scene. In some ways, this works in the film's favour. After all, there are already dozens of films that deal with time travel paradoxes, so it would have difficult for Looper to find a fresh angle. On the other hand, you sometimes get the feeling that Looper is avoiding these issues simply because it doesn't have any convincing answers to offer!
If you stop and think about Looper for more than a few minutes, you will identify plot holes large enough to drive several buses through. This is actually less of an issue than you might think. The fact is that Looper will mostly keep you entertained and whilst you are aware of plot holes as the film progresses, they are not enough to destroy it. It's only after the end credits roll that you stop and think about how big some of those holes actually are; and by that time you don't care because you've already enjoyed the film.
It's true that there are times when the packing is a little slow and it can be a little too talky. This is not really a film that supports large amounts of dialogue or fumbling attempts at character development. As with so many modern films, it could have benefited from a bit of tighter editing and the loss of 15 minutes or so off the running time would not have harmed it at all. The ending could also have done with a rethink, since it shifts completely in tone and is rather predictable. As events were progressing, I could think of only two possible outcomes: a really obvious one that they would never go for, and another one, which they did. For all its outward veneer of complexity, Looper is, at times, disappointingly simple.
Where it is very strong is in creating a vision of the world 30 years from now. It has a Bladerunner vibe to it: everything is still recognizable to early 21st century eyes, but subtly different, evolved in small, but significant ways. Society has degraded even further and the cult of "me" and selfish narcissism has got worse. Depressingly, you can well believe that in thirty years' time, Looper's vision will be the reality. This gives the film a sort of gritty realism which allows you to overlook some of the weaknesses of the plot.
Putting aside the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis look nothing like each other, the cast on the whole do a very good job. After strong performances in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, Gordon-Levitt is quickly establishing himself as the go to man for a whole range of roles, particularly if you want someone hero can star in the more thoughtful type of blockbuster. His Looper Joe is both horrible and curiously attractive.
Bruce Willis backs this up with a good supporting turn as Joe's older self who is out to change the future. It might be Willis doing what he has always done (the furrowed brow and trademark smirk), but it's a perfectly acceptable performance. It might lack some of the emotional intensity of some of the other roles, but this is because the script often sidelines Willis in favour of the relationship between Joe and Sarah (Emily Blunt). Crucially, both Gordon-Levitt and Willis turn what should be a deeply unlikable character into someone the audience can root for, in both his present and future self.
Emily Blunt is excellent as Sarah, the mother of a young child that Young Joe seeks to protect (for reasons far too complicated to go into here). OK, so her falling for Joe is a little too convenient and rushed to be believable, but she does well with a role that requires her to be both feisty and scared; pulling off those two very different emotions with conviction.
The best performance, though, comes from the youngest member of the cast. Pierce Gagnon might only be about eight, but what he lacks in years he more than makes up for in acting ability. His performance is very reminiscent of the young Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense and he shows an emotional versatility far, far beyond his level of experience. One moment he is a screaming, terrifying demonic child, the next he is a lost little boy, anxious for a hug. It's an incredible, assured performance which gives the film an emotional heart you might not normally expect. If (heaven forbid) they were to (re)remake The Omen, Gagnon should be first choice for Damian.
Overall Looper was better than your average blockbuster. It might be a little slow in places and never fully exploit some of the ideas it floats, but it's fun on several different levels. Forget about plot holes or inconsistencies and concentrate on the positives: an interesting storyline, strong visualization of a future society and good performances from a likeable cast. It's not perfect, but it's a damn sight better than many other films I've seen this year.
Director: Rian Johnson
Running time: approx. 118 minutes
(c) copyright SWSt 2012
The trailer for 'Looper' was mighty awesome and I was so hyped to see it when it came out but was unable to, so three weeks after release, my friends and I went to see the movie which has been nicknamed 'this decade's Matrix'.
It's 2044. Time travel hasn't been invented yet. But 30 years from now it will have been. When criminal organizations need someone gone, they zap them back to the past and highly skilled assassins called 'loopers' take them out- a clean and trace-free kill.
Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt), the youngest looper ever recruited, has dreamed of going to France. But when his fellow looper friend Seth comes to him for help after he let his loop (future self) escape, and tells him that all loops are going to be closed, Joe is still hopeful of his dream, until he too is sent his loop.
Future Joe (Bruce Willis) knocks Young Joe out and escapes. Desperate to amend the situation, Young Joe chases Future Joe down. Future Joe tells Young Joe that his future wife was brutally killed and that in order to save her, he must take down the 'Rainmaker', who is still just a young boy in the present, but is the person who initiated the closing of all loops in the future.
Questioning whether Old Joe's future will be his own future and determined to shape his own path, Young Joe is adamant killing his future self is the solution, but when he stays at Sara (Emily Blunt)'s farm where the potential 'Rainmaker' is living and waits for Old Joe, how will his motives change?
I walked into the movie thinking this would be a great blockbuster popcorn thriller (as suggested by the trailer) with a deeper infusion of time-space sci fi themes, which the film was, for the first half hour to an hour... and then it turned into something completely different.
The beautiful cinematography at the beginning was slick, high adrenaline and fueled with artistry, portraying a pumping atmosphere in the year 2044, one of sex, drugs and money. This high life lived by Joe soon spirals out of control when he is sent his loop to kill, and lets him escape.
Another striking and iconic moment early on in 'Looper' is the scenes showing how Old Joe lived his 30 years and then cut back into the present in a 'Back to the Future'-esque manner, saving his present self.
However, the focus withdrew from the the two chasing each other onto another agenda- the 'Rainmaker'. Young Joe camping out at one of Old Joe's targets slowed the pace right down and the movie soon entered emotional/drama territory when feelings of family, upbringing and melodrama all poured out.
Interspersed with action scenes by Old Joe and a few tense scenes as Sara's farm is investigated lifted these slow moments, but nonetheless feels like a different movie altogether.
As the film reached a climax, the sci-fi element returned (in 2044, some people have mutated the ability of telekinesis) in a horrific way and I thought what happens was slightly over the top in a very sinister and scary way- I thought I was in some sort of horror movie!
The ending was kind of expected but still shocking and I am still unsure how to read the movie. There were parts of sheer brilliance and parts with true emotion and heart, but overall, it did feel slightly messy. The slow-pace of Sara's farm didn't match the high octane thriller of the opening sequence and the idea of time-space parallels etc wasn't explored deeply enough.
However, the themes of fate, cycles and time gave the movie more depth and leave you with many questions to ponder about.
Joseph Gordon Levitt- Young Joe
Bruce Willis- Old Joe
Emily Blunt- Sara
Also stars Piper Perabo and Jeff Daniels.
Heavily made up Gordon Levitt (to look more like Willis) was convincing and proves his talent as a rising star in this versatile role. Willis, guns in hand, provided the man power and the humour. Blunt was likeable.
The trailer of 'Looper' is magnificent and slick, but doesn't reflect the true nature of the whole movie. Whilst the cinematography was gripping, the film struggles to find solid footing in the genres of thriller, drama and sci-fi. The meandering pace was off-putting but the themes explored raises enough questions to keep you on the edge of your seat.