When will your loop be closed?
Swift shot: A film that defies expectation. If you’ve seen one preview for Looper, you know what it is purportedly about, but that’s just the cordite on the blunderbuss – while it has a strong science-fiction platform, the story is what I was most drawn to. Ultimately it is a story about throw-away people and what the cycles of neglect and apathy can do to a person . . . and society. Joseph Gordon-Levitt must have felt awkward donning the pubescent Willis look, and at times it played with my mind a bit, but it never really deprived me of being able to immerse myself in the characters and the story.
It’s the story that really sucks you in and the methodical ruthlessness of the pseudo-Dystopian which probably bears the most credence for these types of imagined futures oft portrayed in films. The best thing about Looper has to be that is was original, sure it borrows on themes from other films, but it becomes its own creature, and it breaks out as something people can’t point to and say “God, why can’t Hollywood come up with any new ideas?” In fact, they even poke fun at that within the film in one character-building scene with Jeff Daniels; dark character. You’ll like Looper, and you may find yourself shelling out silver just to see it twice, in case you missed something the first time.
Joe (JG-L) is a ruthless killer, but he isn’t heartless – he’s just a broken person, a “bad man,” really. He’s a Looper in 2044 Kansas. Loopers are folks that kill people from 30 years in the future who are zapped directly in front of them, bagged, tagged, and bound to make it a simple enough task. Point your blunderbuss, pull the trigger, collect your silver, even a child could do it. Joe actually started as a child, picked up off the streets by his Fagan, Abe (Jeff Daniels). Abe is a task-oriented bad guy. Sent from the future to set up the whole Looper operation, seemingly without the public knowing . . . but a few times in the film we are led to believe the existence of Loopers is common-knowledge . . . at least on the streets anyway. Joe has a friend, Seth (Paul Dano) who is more like the fuck-up version of Joe, also a Looper, Seth comes across as a wannabe gangster who really struggles to find any identity other than serving to be Joe’s friend in the film. He’s a junky, just like Joe, they are both addicted to some odd eye-drop drug that allows them to escape the loneliness that is their existence.
Still, life is good enough for the two junkies, kill future-people, collect silver, get drugs, party – rinse and repeat. Until . . . you know, every good story has an “until” or a “but” – and in Looper, all is dreamy until Loopers start “closing their loops.” Which, as you may have guessed means they kill their future selves. It’s not horrible though, you don’t know it’s you until you see that you’ve been paid in gold, then you are free to leave the looping crew and spend the rest of your thirty years as you like. Until . . . you get sent back to be killed by yourself. Thing is, this is rare, but lately everyone has been closing their loops. When Seth meets Old Seth; though, he recognizes himself immediately, because the target is humming a tune Seth’s mom used to use to soothe him. Mothers play a very critical role in Looper, Director Rian Johnson (Brick) no doubt wanted to make it clear how important a role mothers (translated as society) play in developing a person. So, as I mentioned, Seth isn’t exactly the swiftest of people, he manages to let his Old Seth escape. I can’t divulge how Abe captures Old Seth, but I can reveal that it was the most physically and emotionally painful sequence I have watched in a long time. And just like Judas, Seth’s traitor is paid in silver.
After Seth falls apart, Joe is not about to fret when he has to close his own loop. He knew this was coming, but when Old Joe (Willis) is delivered in front of him, first, the timing is off, and second, he isn’t bagged up nor bound. He’s forced to make eye contact with himself, and his moment of hesitation costs him dearly. Old Joe can’t kill himself, so he just knocks him out and leaves him a quick note to hop a train and run. Joe isn’t too swift either, or maybe he wanted to avoid being ‘let go’ like his buddy Seth. Joe searches for Old Joe, as Old Joe searches for the future crime-lord, known only as “The Rainmaker.” The Rainmaker is only a child at this point, but Old Joe is determined the child must die to protect his life in the future. He has it narrowed down to three kids in the area. That’s all the story I will give, because revealing anything else would be criminal.
Emily Blunt plays Sara, the mother of one of the children, Cid (Pierce Gagnon) on Old Joe’s list, and Joe makes their acquaintance and is resolved to help protect Cid from Old Joe at all costs. Bruce Willis may end up losing sleep with this role for what Old Joe does to protect his future life. Pierce Gagnon is going to leave you haunted by his performance. I don’t know where they found this little dude. Not only can he act, but his presence on screen is ‘just beyond’ given the amount he has to work with. I sincerely hope he sticks around Hollywood as more than just a child actor. Impressive work.
Looper will leave you asking several questions. In the end; though, you will be forced to ask the toughest question of all, but to reveal that question would be to reveal the answer and to spoil the film. Love and loss often go hand in hand, and regret is sometimes only a ticking clock away. Go see this film, immediately. You will be disturbed and intrigued.
[Swift aside: Incidentally, I blew the chance to interview Rian Johnson and JG-L in Miami, but my buddy Kai didn’t. So, please check out his interviews here and let us know what you thought about Looper]