It’s been a long time since I went to the cinema. It was to see Brave, surrounded by enthralled children. Last night, full of cinema withdrawal, I saw Looper which was a much more adult experience. The trailers didn’t promise much. Paranormal Activity 4 which looked scary but from what I’ve seen of the Paranormal Activity franchise, that piece of scariness was probably it. Sinister, which actually looked quite good if I could cope with films of that nature. Skyfall, boring, boring, boring and Bullet In The Head which was dripping with testosterone and so macho I nearly choked on my M&Ms. It made me a little worried about Looper, if I’m honest.
I needn’t have worried. Looper is fast paced, gripping and a testament to the writers and actors. I haven’t left a cinema that exhilarated since The Dark Knight.
Time travel doesn’t exist yet but it does thirty years in the future. Outlawed, it is used only by the big criminals. Bodies are hard to dispose of in the future, so they take their mark, send them thirty years in the past where as assassin kills them and disposes of the corpse. These assassins are known as loopers. When their bosses choose to end the agreement, they send the looper’s older counterpart back to be killed. The looper does the deed, takes the gold payment and lives out their last thirty years. This is called closing the loop.
Just the premise alone is enough to get me hot under the collar. But many a film has an exciting premise and then falls apart. The worry with Looper is that it involves time travel which is notoriously difficult to pull off. Time travel can never be infallible; there will always be plot holes and parts that just don’t make sense. What the writers of Looper have done is cleverly disguise these holes until they are barely noticeable. It is only when you wake up the next morning that they begin to occur to you and by then it’s too late, you’ve already fallen for the film.
Or maybe this was just me. I woke up with questions but instantly forgave Looper all of its indiscretions because I enjoyed it so much.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Joe) was unrecognisable. He brilliantly mimicked Willis’ trademark looks and gestures and so when Bruce Willis (older Joe) makes an appearance, their performance as one character is flawless. Bruce Willis gave a performance to remind viewers just what he is capable of, not just an action hero. Emily Blunt (Sara) also showed her acting prowess and despite being introduced fairly late she is a well rounded individual that the viewers can immediately like and empathise with. On a side note, keep an eye out for Garret Dillahunt (Bert in Raising Hope).
I admit I was concerned at the beginning. The world in which Joe lives in is gritty, dark and depressing. It is filled with poverty, drugs and prostitutes and this, naturally, makes me uneasy. As with all good films that start off with this uneasiness, my fears were unfounded. These particular topics were not focused upon and yet were dealt with the brutality that they deserve. Ultimately, however, this is a film about love. The love a mother has for her son, a love a son has for his mother, a love a man has for his wife. Actually, the parental relationship is a key theme throughout as children are abandoned for a life of drugs and partying. Even Joe’s boss, played superbly by Jeff Daniels, is an incarnation of Dickens’ Fagin, a father figure for the desperate, recruiting young boys and putting a gun in their hands.
There were a couple of aspects that truly blew me away with this film. Firstly the concept of meeting ones future self. I loved the interaction between Gordon-Levitt and Willis and instantly began to wonder what my future self would make of me now. These two men are one character and yet they are so different, not only because people grow and change as they age but because of the different paths they have taken despite being one and the same. This is an original concept that allows the viewer to see how decisions in early life can change everything – where we grow old, the people we love, our opinions and regrets.
This is cleverly portrayed by these characters being similar enough for it to be believable that they are the same person but also differing on enough aspects for the viewer to generate separate opinions on each.
The other aspect which left me wide eyed and in awe was Pierce Gagnon who plays Cid, a ten year old boy. In this present, some people have developed minor telekinesis skills and Cid’s scenes are what the X-Men franchise could have been. The special effects, coupled with the soundtrack, make his anger and fear truly spectacular. His acting is impeccable for one so young and Cid is both sweet and devastating all at once.
Gagnon not only plays Cid seamlessly and beautifully but the writers have created an incredible character in this boy. One moment you’re terrified, the next you want to hold him and protect him. Through this boy, the film questions the nature/nurture argument and will rip you apart as you will nurture to win. The nature/nurture theory could also arguably be applied to Joe, abandoned by his mother as a child and left alone in the world before he became the youngest looper. It is therefore surprisingly that he is such a well rounded individual but this makes his dreams all the more poignant.
Cid is only one fantastic part that makes Looper a triumph. This film is gory, disturbing, heart breaking and funny. It is everything I wanted and needed in a film.
My only piece of advice when watching Looper is not to think too much about the time travel. Just accept it as it is given.
Don’t question, just enjoy.