2 out of 5 stars
Have you ever had one of those “what the hell was that” moments? I had one tonight as I tried to figure out what happened to the two hours I spent watching the new film “Looper.”
Kansas in the year 2044. As someone who lives there in the present day I’m kind of upset to see that it doesn’t really change much three decades from now. We come across Joe (Gordon-Levitt) standing in a field. A few yards away is a plastic tarp spread out on the ground. He checks his watch. Suddenly, a bound and kneeling figure appears. BOOM! A quick blast with his shotgun and Joe has made his money. Joe is a Looper.
Kind of a reverse-“Terminator” without any of James Cameron’s wit (or wisdom), “Looper” informs us that, 30 years into the future, time travel will have been invented. Of course, it will also be outlawed. And, like the bumper stickers say, when you outlaw time travel only outlaws WILL time travel. The guy who just popped by in the field had been sent back from the future by the underworld kingpin that controls the future. This way the body is disposed in the past with no one in the future any more the wiser. Confused? Good, I thought it was just me. Anyway, the Looper kills his mark, and then receives his pay in silver bars, which he cashes in. Occasionally the Looper will discover the dead guy comes with gold bars. Sadly, this means the Looper has just killed his future self. It also means he’s free to go live his life how he wants for the next 30 years until…well, you know. When Joe realizes that he has to kill his future self (Willis, who will from here on in be known as Old Joe) he balks, allowing Old Joe to escape. Now it’s a battle of Joe vs Joe, and may the best Joe win!
A clever premise that somehow got lost in translation from page to screen, “Looper” tries to be a little bit of everything. Time Travel picture…lost love story…Tarantino-esque dark comedy. The problem is that it tries to be all of those at the same time. Gordon-Levitt does a fine job here as the smooth killer facing a tough decision. Through the magic of CGI, Joe resembles what Hollywood thinks Bruce Willis look like, which is a cross between Sean Connery (1964) and Marlon Brando from “On the Waterfront.” Willis is fine, basically playing himself, and Blunt has some good scenes as a young mother with a secret. However, all of the hard work is lost in the plot and stilted in the direction, both of which were contributed by Rian Johnson.