Words by Benjamin Pinsent
Science fiction is an interesting genre, it is based around actual science but it is a science that must be explained in the logic of the diegesis of the film. This enhances the reality of the film, even though things like warp drives, teleporters and time travel don’t exist in our reality, the film makes it appear that these fantastical technologies could be created.
Time travel is a whole different kettle of fish: the actual invention of time travel is one thing but keeping track of the separate timelines and paradoxes is something else. If a film does this poorly it can feel bogged down in what seems to be needless complexity. But if it is done right, the result can be a mind-bending ride through the fabric of causality.
‘Looper’ is set in the not to distant future of 2044; 30 years down the line time travel is invented, immediately outlawed and is only used by high level criminal organisations to dispose of a body. These gangs recruit people from their past to kill their enemies: to truly make them disappear, as we are told that due to tagging in the future evidence always floats to the surface. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Joe Simmons a Looper, who comes across his future self (Bruce Willis) who won’t lay down and die, because his life has become too comfortable to let go.
The basic premise is just that, basic. High concept things are mentioned and never explained, 10 percent of the population have telekinetic powers that they use to impress the opposite sex. There are drugs that can be used like eye drops. And last of all there is time travel, which the film goes out of its way not to explain. The weird thing is that the film does not suffer for it, the rest of the story is so absorbing that the audience is left not caring about the many paradoxes and temporal anomalies caused by Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt.
The cast is brilliant; Gordon Levitt himself is perfectly transformed into Bruce Willis, in look and mannerism. Young Simmons is a party boy, only focused on the now like his fellow loopers. Seth (Paul Dano) who is only on screen for the first part of the film leaves a lasting impression as an example of what happens when you let your “loop run”.
Willis gives his all as old Joe, who in his old age has simmered down, showing the lengths a man is capable of going for the one he loves. But the stand out of the piece is Emily Blunt, who after all her years in America finally pulls out a convincing accent.
Jeff Daniels also makes an appearance as the boss of the loopers, mixing that sense of humour with violence and anger that Albert Brooks did for ‘Drive’. All the characters play off each other wonderfully; each interaction deepens the character and advances the plot at the same time.
This film is a gift to watch. Cinematographer Steve Yedlin, places everything in a really tight plane of focus. The contrast between the foreground and background gives the film an extra edge. That, coupled with the use of colour, adds layers of meaning to an already thematically heavy movie.
The film represents an advance in the careers of everyone involved: from Levitt to Johnson, who previously worked together on ‘Brick’, to Blunt and Willis, who try things that they aren’t really used to.
It also shows us that a blockbuster can still have something deeper than just great visuals, it can have something to say with out giant robots and explosions every thirty seconds.
From this review and the others that have been written by the likes of the Guardian, one can assume that this is a film that every one must see this year. Rian Johnson promised us adventure with the trailer and he delivered with brilliant visuals, witty writing and a score that can “wub wub” harder than anything Skrillex will put out.