Overview: In the future, the mob uses time travel to send targets back in time to be killed by assassins called “loopers.” Everything changes for Joe, a looper, when his future self is sent back to him to be killed. Tristar Pictures. 2012. Rated R. 119 Minutes.
Two Faces: Looper examines some possibilities that could arise if time travel existed. One of those possibilities is the existence of a different version of the same person in the same time period. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis portray the lead character Joe at different points of his life, Gordon-Levitt as Joe and Willis as Old Joe. In order to link the two actors together as the same person, Gordon-Levitt wore face prostheses to make him look like Willis. Director Rian Johnson opted to use makeup instead of visual effects to make the transition more realistic. Gordon-Levitt’s transformation is convincing, though at times the prostheses are noticeable and draw the viewer’s eye, but when dealing with an action star as iconic as Willis, transforming anyone to look like him would be difficult.
The Future: To create the futuristic world, Johnson doesn’t drastically change anything from our current world, but uses small, selective touches to create a significant enough change. City environments are altered to show a worn, chaotic, and depreciated world. Cars are altered to run on different fuel, hover bikes exist, and characters administer drugs through eye drops. The change isn’t over the top, and it’s just enough to create a believable future.
Time Travel: Old Joe (Willis) explains all we need to know about the intricacies of the time travel aspects of this film: “I don’t want to talk about time travel shit, because if we start talking about it then we’re gonna be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws. It doesn’t matter.” I agree with his sentiments, however, I will talk about it for just a moment. The time travel details work for the film within the world that Johnson created. He thought it through. He checked it twice, and it works. If it doesn’t work for viewers, then maybe we’re thinking too hard.
Best Scene: When the two Joe’s meet in a remote diner. Young Joe and Old Joe sit across the table from one another and try to make sense of what is going on. It’s endlessly fascinating to contemplate the dynamics of the same person existing in two forms and meeting themselves. The possibilities are endless.
Final Thoughts: Looper is a successful as both an action film and a sci-fi thriller, while also being an interesting study of a character existing in different forms. The multiple levels of time travel and weaving story lines lend well to multiple viewings, and create a myriad of topics for viewers to engage in and discuss.