director Rian Johnson
Time travel stories can make you feel loopy, head-tripping on trying to understand the ramifications of things. Writer/director Rian Johnson’s Looper mostly avoids the more arcane aspects of time travel explication, though it is indeed key to the story, a story set in a not too distant future as well.
Johnson, who came on the scene with 2005’s Brick, the “film noir in high school” and followed it up with The Brothers Bloom (2008) a comic con-man film, really hadn’t hit a home run yet, but still showed a lot of promise. As a writer/director who is actually crafting original ideas (creativity being an ironically challenged aspect in Hollywood), he may be one of the current best bets for a potentially remarkable career. And Looper looked to be his best film yet. And I think it probably is.
Starring his Brick lead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who is also becoming one of the actors who seems to pretty consistently select interesting roles with good directors), Looper is science fiction with a lot of crime/noir elements providing the major genre elements. Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a hired killer for the mob, whose job is to shoot hooded guys who suddenly pop up in a cornfield, who have been transported from the further future for execution. You see, in the future of 2044 (Joe’s present), time travel hasn’t been invented, but in 30 years it will be and its primary use is for this form of assassination.
Loopers, as the assassins are called, ultimately are faced with assassinating themselves, closing “the loop” of their existence. And this is where Bruce Willis comes in. He’s future Joe, who has come back to right wrongs and avenge a woman he loves. Jeff Daniels is Abe, the mastermind from the future, who runs the show. And Emily Blunt shows up as an unlikely farmer aimed at protecting her psychically powerful son, who may or may not be the future of death and destruction.
So much for keeping the story simple.
It’s an original story in a not very original year in films. And it’s a good movie. I would probably posit it’s Johnson’s best yet, though Brick might be worth revisiting. I certainly consider Looper to be one of the better new films that I’ve seen this year. And I certainly will look forward to Rian Johnson’s future films and continued evolution as a filmmaker.