Looper (2012) – Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson is a fantastic writer/director (no matter what some Star Wars fans may think), and with his science fiction thriller, Looper, he plays with a number of familiar tropes, especially those of the western genre as he explores, and plays with, causality, in this brilliant actioner that stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt.

In the late 21st century, time travel is discovered and immediately outlawed, but that doesn’t stop organized crime from using it. They send their targets back thirty years in time to face immediate execution by gunmen known as Loopers, removing all trace of body and evidence. The killers get paid well, but know eventually, they will have to kill their future selves and receive a gold payday to live it up for thirty years.

Joe (Gordon-Levitt), is such a man. But when his older self, Old Joe (Bruce Willis) shows up, we get to see two futures played out. Wrapping around all of this, is the reveal that some of the current population have telekinetic ability, and the rumors of a new crime boss in the future, known as the Rainmaker, who is closing all the loops.

In one future, Joe does his job, killing Old Joe, and living his thirty years, but when his turn arrives to be sent back in time to meet his destiny, things change. He has something to live for now, vengeance, and the love of a woman, familiar ideas to a number of genres, but truly at home in the western. The younger version of Joe also falls easily into the western film, the gunslinger with a past who has been selfish, and self-involved for so long, moving forward towards something bigger than himself, and recognizing the cost of it.

And it will cost… If Old Joe can find the Rainmaker in the current timeline, and kill him, perhaps his own future will be safe. Shades of The Terminator! and where will Joe fall on this argument, and what will happen when he finds Sara (Blunt) and her son, Cid (Pierce Gagnon)?

Jeff Daniels shows up, playing Abe, a man from the future, running the looper and the city in Joe’s time, and while he serves, partially, as Joe’s mentor, nothing will stop him should he be crossed.

It’s a fast-moving, thought-provoking tale, that wraps a number of its characters, and settings in slightly altered versions of the western genre, even as it pushes the viewer to think about possible futures, and timelines. Not only are costumes and sets slightly altered, and brilliantly designed, but Gordon-Levitt dons some prosthetics, and contacts to make his appearance closer to Willis’, which is augmented by the younger actor adopting a number of Willis’ mannerisms.

I missed this one when it was in theatres, but snapped it up the moment it hit blu-ray back in the day, having been a huge fan of Johnson’s Brick, and I love delving into it every now and again, and letting my brain play with causality, paradoxes and timelines.

It’s a great flick!

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