Monday, February 11, 2013

LOOPER (2012)

The year is 2044, and time travel hasn’t been invented yet.  Thirty years in the future it has, and the mob uses this technology to send unwanted individuals back to the past for execution by hired guns called loopers.  A looper reaches retirement when he (they are all men) kills his future self, thus “closing the loop”, and is sent off with gold bars to await termination three decades hence.  Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) approaches this vocation with desensitized pragmatism.  He shoots the hooded and hog-tied targets when they appear in the cornfield, collects his payment, saves some of his silver for the future, and spends the remainder on medicating eye drops or on his stripper girlfriend Suzie (Piper Perabo).  One night Joe’s best friend and fellow looper Seth (Paul Dano) shows up in a panic, desperate for shelter.  He failed to close his loop and is on the run from mob enforcer Kid Blue (Noah Segan).  According to Seth’s future self, a powerful boss called the Rainmaker has been aggressively closing loops.  Joe attempts to hide Seth, but local boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) coerces him into giving up his friend.  Joe barely has time for remorse before he meets his future self (Bruce Willis) in the cornfield.  Old Joe knocks him out and escapes.  Now Joe must close the loop before Kid Blue and Abe terminate him.  As it turns out Old Joe plans to kill the Rainmaker before he comes to power.  Meanwhile Joe takes shelter at a remote farm owned by tough single mother Sara (Emily Blunt) and bonds with her precocious 10-year-old son Cid (Pierce Gagnon), whom he begins to suspect may be the young Rainmaker.  This existential thriller from writer/director Rian Johnson is no simple TERMINATOR knock-off.  He uses the time travel conceit not merely as a plot device, but as a means to explore identity and self-perception once a character witnesses his own future actions.  How we respond to the two Joes’ divergent goals and the moral quandaries they face is as complex as the characters’ responses (and Willis and, particularly, Gordon-Levitt are up to this task).  For this reason the film denies easy catharsis until its beautifully realized conclusion.

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