Rent Looper on Amazon Video (paid link)
Written by: Rian Johnson
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Tracie Thoms, Garret Dillahunt
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In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past where a hired gun like Joe awaits who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by sending back Joe’s future self for assassination.
It’s a time travel action movie that uses the plot’s inconsistencies to build the story. If you can ignore that core flaw, the premise is really neat as this builds to a face off between one character at different ages. One is fighting for the future, the other the past. While the plot has some issues, the premise of contract killing with the aid of time travel carries this far.
Johnson’s first film Brick, ensured I would watch his following movies. I saw this not long after it came out in part being one of Johnson’s film and mostly because it’s time travel. One of the big things about this movie is that many people didn’t realize Joseph Gordon-Levitt was in it due to his extensive prosthetics.
|Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe|
In this dystopian world Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Miata driving, French learning assassin. He’s given enough depth to make him interesting. His job depends on time travel as the mob sends back victims to be killed to avoid being traced in the future. This is an awesome premise. Joe is a killer, but he murders people that don’t exist and aren’t missing. It’s a unique way for criminals in the future to dispose of bodies. This is a terrible world, but Joe gets to live well for a while. When you take this job you’re informed that at some point the mob will want to dispose of you as well to close the loop.
This movie posits that time is not a fixed loop and that it can be modified. I don’t agree with that, but for the sake of the movie ignoring that provides plenty of entertainment and a couple of shocking moments.
|Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play Joe|
Closing the loop is a difficult thing when your future self is facing you. Things don’t go as planned, and the movie provides a nice connection from current Joe to the thirty years older Joe that just appeared. It’s at this point the future diverts. Instead of running to China young Joe confronts Old Joe who desperately wants to change the future while young Joe plans to stop him. That’s basically the premise and it works well.
This has to be inspired, at least in part, by The Terminator where a man from the future comes to the past to alter the future by killing a child.
The trick with the two Joes is that young Joe is creating ‘new’ memories and old Joe gets those memories, just as old Joe suddenly gets ‘new’ injuries. Young Joe is inadvertently feeding old Joe clues. This ends up being a showdown between the two of them.
The impetus from this is that old Joe wants to fight fate to retain his memories. For some reason young Joe who is a contract killer doesn’t want old Joe to kill some random people. It works well enough for the story. This is a fun mind bender that manages to coast far on the premise alone. The time travel logic doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t need to. A solid conclusion helps this end well.