Rian Johnson managed to create a dynamic, fantastically shot and most of all, well written film. In the sci fi genre, time travel movies are everything but uncommon, but rarely does a movie manage to escape the cliches of its own genre. It cannot be said that Looper fully accomplishes that, but it definitely does set itself apart from the majority of this subgenre with its unique approach to the central motif, as well as with its clear lack of jarring CGI that doesn’t serve the story.
The story is set in the future, more precisely 2044, where time travel technology does not yet exist. However, soon we learn that in 2074 this possibility exists, but the act of time travel is criminalized. It is also almost impossible to cover up a murder.
Joe Simmons (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Bruce Willis) comes into a situation where he has to kill an older version of himself, sent from the future, in order to avoid some sort of so-called time continuum disturbance, since Joe himself is a looper. Loopers are a group of murderers working for a criminal organization in the distant future. Their bosses are returning their targets to the past, and the job of the looper is to simply kill them. The target disappears from the future and the killers get rid of bodies that technically don’t even exist.
There is a joke somewhere in here, about Joseph Gordon Levitt starring in an absolute Gordian Knot of a movie, but it is yet to be written, and it probably won’t be a very good joke anyways. Either way, his performance was truly stellar, perhaps even the highlight of this movie. Bruce Willis did his usual Bruce Willis thing, and it suited him.
Looper certainly manages to tap into some previously unseen areas of creative thinking on the topic of time travel. Paradoxes are inevitable, but the way they’re written and presented is what makes the story memorable. This movie was pleasantly easy to follow. The nature of the subject of time travel always makes the structure of the story slightly confusing to follow, but this film managed to present its ideas as clearly as possible, while managing to avoid a lot of cliches. Not all of them, but certainly a lot, and it stood out in the way it did it.