Reviewing Looper isn’t an easy task. Rating it – super easy. Telling you what you need to know without revealing too much – not so simple. Like the criminally-not-released-in-cinemas Cabin in the Woods, to an extent the less you know about this film going in the better. But you need to know enough to make you want to go. And trust me, you should want to go.
I should start by saying I thought I knew all there was to know about the basic plot. I didn’t (and I won’t be telling you what I didn’t know ;-)) Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a ‘looper’ a hit man tasked with killing people sent back by a criminal syndicate in the future, which has harnessed the illegal ability to time travel. Things get more complicated when Joe (the role was written with Joseph in mind by his Brick director Rian Johnson) is tasked with killing his future self, played by Bruce Willis. Confused yet? Amazingly, one thing this film isn’t is confusing.
The script admits a few times, in a suitably tongue in cheek way, that time travel is a murky area that can tie you up in knots if you think too hard about it. But somehow this film succeeds where many many others have failed – in making a smart and complex film about time travel that doesn’t have too much WTF moments. Sure, if you think about it too much it DOES make your head hurt – but it is such a good film that you won’t be distracted with the complexities of physics. The story is both believable and relatable which, given it is set mostly in the year 2044, is no easy feat.
The Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Bruce Willis combo impress – with Joseph having to do most of the heavy lifting but Bruce getting his action on when needed. I have raved about Joseph before, but he is again a delight to watch here. Jeff Daniels as mob boss Abe does a great job of gentle but menacing, and Paul Dano’s brief turn as another looper was a highlight. And I have been an Emily Blunt fan since before The Devil Wears Prada shot her to fame, and her role here as a protective mother is unlike anything previously seen from her. Her toned down but committed performance is impressive, and she looks convincing (but not TOO convincing) at the end of a shotgun.
But it is the things I can’t tell you that impress the most about this film. It makes you think – and question – quite a bit, which for what could be marketed as a straight action film is an achievement. Some are calling it the ‘next Matrix’ and to an extent they are right. The Matrix may have had more stylish running up the walls during gunfights, but Looper beats that with a more solidly beating heart. And with that, I give it my first ever 5 M&M rating and head off to consult my calendar to see when I can watch it again…