The Monocle – “Looper”

Directed by: Rian Johnson
Written by: Rian Johnson
Released: September 28th, 2012

Theatre watched at: Universal AMC, Universal City

What if I told you that the sentence I am typing right this second means much, much, more than the sum of its parts, that an endless amount of new and separate spaces of time are created with each word? In these individual spaces exists a biologically equivalent, but other, “me,” where time is synchronized throughout and is occurring all at once, with another “me” deciding to type a different word in place of what I’ve typed now. Maybe synonyms. Perhaps antonyms. It’s even quite likely that another me is realizing that this intro is going to absolutely annoy and confuse the readers before I even get to the actual review *twitch*, and he’ll be in a version of temporal space where time travel is possible *twitch*  and come to this time and stop me, NO, eliminate me from posting this review! *twitch* O__O; Hah…hah…oh man…that would be…that would be something, wouldn’t it? *NINJA LOOK AROUND SHOULDERS*

Anyways, so Looper stars the new school stylings of the delectable and addicting Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer, The Dark Knight Rises), and the old school stylings of the charming and fierce Bruce Willis (The Whole Nine Yards, Die Hard Franchise) who both play the same character but in different times. This character is Joe Simmons- a “looper,” and what this cute sounding title denotes is an assassin who specializes in killing people who are sent back in time by the mafia from the year 2074, the year in which time travel will be invented but has been dubbed illegal, to the year 2044, a time in which the United States is experiencing a severe economic crash and rise of criminal activities resulting in a deteriorated society. Yeah, so seriously people? Vote. Oh, and there’s a side note about how 10% of the population experiences genetic mutation that grant them the freaking awesome, but only slight power of telekinesis- the ability to move things with your mind (if you didn’t already know). Phew! That’s just set up for the setting!

Now, the plot is kick-started by a special mechanic of being a looper called “closing your loop,” this is when the mafia wants to end their contract with a looper by sending their future selves back to be killed by their younger selves, and since all their targets are sent back with a bag over their head, the loopers can never predict when the person they’ve shot is themselves, they only realize this once they’ve collected their bounty that is strapped to the back of their targets: silver means “not you,” gold means “you.” By closing the loop the crime bosses have completely erased all evidence of their actions and cannot be convicted of crimes without a body, this is something that loopers are aware of when they sign their contracts, meaning they live the good life, but only for about 30 years. So during one of Young Joe’s killing sessions, one of his targets does not appear with a bag over his head, and lo and behold it’s Old Joe, come to be killed to close his loop- that is until Old Joe is able to subdue Young Joe and escape. Obviously this is a problem, but to finally shorthand it all, Old Joe has come back for revenge for the murder of his wife by some extremely powerful and mysterious man in the future known as the Rainmaker, who has ordered that all looper’s loops be closed regardless of whether or not their services have been considered fulfilled. With a piece of evidence from the future, Old Joe is determined to find the Young Rainmaker and kill him to savior the memory of his future wife, while Young Joe, now being hunted by his own agency, must try and prevent this from happening.

Still with me? After seeing how I’ve had to explain all of that just to give you the quick summary of the synopsis, you might think that this film is just some convoluted mess of sci-fi jibber jabber that does not hold to its rules and ultimately leaves you with a bunch of unanswered crap in your head they consider to be a “pay-off.” Well…no. Not even in the slightest. Looper is an absolutely fantastic sci-fi film that takes all of its bounds and stays quite linearly with them, which makes for an unforgettable, time traveling adventure bursting with freshness and creativity from director/writer Rian Johnson; not only do I consider this one of the best films of the year, it’s one of the best sci-fi films ever. With all of its mind-numbing elements, the film is put together with such precision and depth that even the most loyal sci-fi geeks will appreciate the ease at which you ride along in this story. It will not answer all the questions it is inevitable to raise, but these will not be questions that seep from the cracks they left unattended in the story, they’ll be from your own mind, manifested from your own genuine interest in the world that has been created. That is a feat that is difficult to achieve, which is why this film seems to be the start of an amazing career for Rian Johnson (who directed the Sundance winning Brick, also starring JGL, and is also a great film you should check out).

The whole cast does a great job here, nothing I feel is going to be award worthy, but nonetheless extremely solid. Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber, The Newsroom) who plays Joe’s boss, Abe, totally Liam Neeson-ed his game up here, scary yet restrained like a jet black doberman. Also, huge props to Pierce Gagnon who plays Cid, the son of Sarah played by Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau, The Five-Year Engagement), who impressed me so much in delivering his lines and facial expressions with such maturity. Standing ovation to the visual effects and make-up teams who turned JGL into an absolute carbon copy of Bruce Willis, aside from the lack of bass in JGL’s voice, I totally believed JGL could have been Willis’ real life, younger self. Emily Blunt is hot.

Also one of the stars of the show, the nearly apocalyptic 2044 United States of America and all of the cultural depth that is shown here. Again, I believe that this world they’ve presented could possibly be a real 2044. There is an obvious progression of technology, the likes of which I can only ascribe to Apple, surrounded in a nostalgia that is the present day, give or take a few decades. Everything is a slim touch screen with glowing tron lights, and yet the cars in this film, you will see, are present day cars supped up with some sort of solar panels for fuel. The environment is so rich in detail I would love to see another movie set in this universe, parallel timeline, or however you want to call it.

There really isn’t much else to say about it without giving away too much of the fun that goes with actually seeing the film. This year was the year of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt, that I am for damn certain, and you know what? Hell yeah, I love JGL. He’s a fantastic actor with great imagination and ambition in and out of film (see his website HITRECORD for proof). He clearly knows how to choose his roles by seeing the talent, not only that he has, but what his directors have and that’s a gold recipe in Hollywood not many actors are able to reach.

I had the hardest time pondering what score to give this film, and I went back and forth between the highest achievement and a step down, and I’ll tell you why I gave it the score I did, and that’s not to say it’s exactly a horrible thing, but the film and its time theories offer nothing new to the genre. Perhaps it’s just me because I’ve seen all that there has to do with time travel, but I think if this film had offered a truly new idea, it would have gotten the highest possible score. Again, Looper is unbelievable, you wont be disappointed, and trust me I’m a huge sci-fi, especially time-travel, freak; that sh*t keeps me up at night sometimes, literally. As Abe says, “This time travel stuff is enough to fry your brain like an egg.” But I love time travel, I love brain, and I love eggs- true story.


Bow Tie Approved

Bow Tie Score - 4.5