Review: Looper

Looper is a good old-fashioned time-travel film, complete with loops and the occasional paradox. Plus, it has two great actors (Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis) letting loose with big guns. So, good story, good acting, and things go boom.

The premise is that Joe (Gordon Levitt) is an assassin for the mob. Except, it’s not so much the mob today as it’s the mob in thirty years. They have access to some illegal time-travel equipment, and to avoid the excellent forensics of the future, they send their enemies back in time to be disposed of here. So Joe goes out to the corn field, sets up at the right place and right time, and when the target appears, bound with a bag over the head, he makes quick work of them. The payment is in shiny bars of silver, strapped to the back of the target. And back in Joe’s time, getting rid of a body is easy – especially a body no one will be looking for for another thirty years.

Nice job, good pay, and powerful connections. There’s only one catch. At some point in the future, the powers that be need to clean up your contract to keep you from testifying about some of those bodies, so eventually, your future self gets sent back, and you’re the one who has to clean it up. That one pays in gold, and you get to spend the next thirty years in wealthy retirement, waiting for the day that they’ll come to close your particular loop.

Well, one day future Joe (Bruce Willis) appears, and he does not want to go gently into that good night. And from there… well, complications ensue.

I don’t want to say anything else, because that would be getting into spoiler territory. I’ll just say that young Joe has very good reason for wanting old Joe dead, and old Joe has a very strong motivation to do something else before that happens. It’s a great dilemma for both of them, both pitting them against each other as well as making them uneasy allies.

The ending caught me by surprise, but looking back, I’m kind of surprised I was surprised. Mostly, I was just that wrapped up in the immediacy of the story I wasn’t able to do the plot analysis to look for the appropriate ending. I’ll say this at least, I don’t think I was the only one surprised. When the credits rolled, the theater was silent. No laughter. No applause. Just contemplative silence.

Now, like virtually all time travel tales, yes, there are a couple of plot holes, but I didn’t spot them in the moment. Rather, it was only later, thinking back on it that I started to wonder why such and such had not happened. But during the film, I was hooked.

So, I’ll give it four out of five stars, and I’ll probably try to pick up the disc when it drops to $12.

(This is the first movie review I’ve posted here, presumably more will follow. They’ll fill the Friday book review slot when I haven’t finished that next book. Yes, I’m a slow reader.)