Credit: Sony Pictures


Joseph Gordon-Levitt is at it again. Looper is his 3rd major motion picture in as many months and I’m stuck wondering where the heck did this guy come from? And from looking up his filmography (Premium Rush, ailment The Dark Knight Rises, ailment 50/50, herbal Inception, 500 Days of Summer)….Wow, he’s been busy. Gordon-Levitt has had roles in several movies and TV shows I’ve seen, but I just didn’t recognize the guy. So now I know where he came from: EVERYWHERE.


Looper is a sci-fi movie about Joseph Simmons aka Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), one of many contract killers called loopers living in the 2040’s, who is hired by mob bosses 30 years (2070’s) in the future to murder targets sent back in time. For Joe, this illegal job provides an easy lucrative lifestyle that allows him to dress well, drive fancy cars, and party hard.


Credit: Sony Pictures


But the tables turn and now loopers are the ones being hunted. 30 years in the future, a new and elusive boss known only as The Rainmaker is ‘closing the loop’ on all of the loopers – he’s sending them back in time to be offed by their younger selves. When it’s Joe’s turn to end his own life, he’s outsmarted by his future self – Old Joe (Bruce Willis) – who gets away. Now, Joe is on the hunt to kill himself. But Old Joe is on a mission too. Before the Rainmaker tried to zap Old Joe back 30 years to be executed, The Rainmaker kills his wife (Qing Xu). Now willing to travel back in time, Old Joe is determined to get to her killer first.


After an assassination attempt by his younger self, Old Joe has to convince Joe to help him find and kill The Rainmaker before he (or she) rises to power. To be more clear, Old Joe is looking to kill a 10 year-old kid before he/she grows up to become this Rainmaker, an underworld despot, and start targeting loopers. Old Joe believes this unimaginable act will help save his wife (30 years in the future) from being murdered.


Confused yet?



Looper is a fantastic movie just based on its elements alone: time travel, paradox loops, alternate timelines, and free will versus predetermination.


Yeah, wow!


And whenever you need a sci-fi action hero, Bruce Willis is your man. It’s been a few years, but Willis starred in Surrogates (2009), The Fifth Element (1997) and 12 Monkeys (1995).


Credit: Sony Pictures


Usually when two different actors have to play different versions of the same character, the director will cast actors with similar features but not Looper. So how does the Gordon-Levitt/Willis match up work when they don’t favor each other in the least? The answer is good old-fashioned make-up and prosthetic. Joseph Gordon-Levitt spent extra hours in the make-up chair to get his Bruce Willis schnozzle and brows. We all know that Gordon-Levitt’s eyes aren’t that light; they are actually dark-brown. He had to wear blue-green contact lenses while filming. And what was up with that blasé smirk on his face? Oh wait a minute; he took on Bruce Willis mannerisms as well – he channeled the essences of Willis’ behavior instead of vice-versa. It distracted me a bit, but it did sell the “these two guys are the same guy” thing.



Speaking of “these two guys are the same guy,” Joe and Old Joe didn’t relate well to each other at all. Joe interacted with his older self as if he was a different person all together with his own separate fate. Even though Old Joe was the product of every decision Joe was destined to make, he resisted the notion that his destiny as Old Joe was already set in stone.


Joe felt he had a choice in the matter of the heart versus mind conflict. Old Joe knew what needed to change but Joe’s heart had trouble accepting that Old Joe’s fate would be his as well. Complicating matters even more for the Joes, they each found love in different women and Joe was determined to save Sara (Emily Blunt), not Old Joe’s wife, from being caught in the crossfire. But the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Both Sara and Old Joe’s wife were the reason they left the looper lifestyle, saving them from their addiction and ultimately themselves.



Time travel itself wasn’t the focus of the movie so virtually no screen time was spent on explaining any aspect of it; it just happened. However, time travel was the means used by a looper to pit free will and predetermination right against each other. Come to think of it, Looper is the only movie I can remember where both were exercised by the main character. Looper used old sci-fi aspects and added its own contribution to the time travel genre by questioning what role memories play in a time traveler’s connection to their other self. The best unintentional, passive, default aspect about Looper is that it makes you apart of the time travel experience as the Observer, a component of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.


My nerd is showing, excuse me.



Looper also had some dark elements. Aside from the typical futuristic hell-in-a-hand-basket society, Looper showed just how far someone would go in the name of self preservation and it was pretty damn far. Furthermore, the movie highlighted how dysfunctional guys, like Joe, have dysfunctional relationships. Not that I’ve had a stripper girlfriend but I, ahem, heard it would go a little bit like Joe and Suzie (Piper Perabo) but you know what they say, “she don’t wanna be saved.”


Credit: Sony Pictures


Looper’s future is interesting, albeit odd. Apparently in the 2040’s good old fashioned syringes have gone by the wayside for eye droppers as a means of illicit drug delivery. But the Womp Womp Award goes to the futuristic motorcycles because it was quite literally a crotch rocket. It was a nice touch to show how even small things will be different in the future, an aspect I liked about Dredd3D as well. Also similar to Dredd3D, Looper had mutants called “TK’s,” people with the ability of telekinesis.


Sci-Fi movies are just fun to think about, especially when they deal with real scientific theories. Even more fun is that if you rationalize the movie different than I did then, well, you’re right – we’re both right. Your interpretation isn’t anymore wrong than someone else is right. So when I say The Rainmaker really wasn’t “closing loops” by sending loopers back in time to be killed by their younger selves because…




It’s hard to talk about all of this without spoiling the movie so just go watch it and then hit up That’s Atlanta and SteveandJtv on Facebook and we’ll talk about it. Deal?


Don’t forget about the Twitters: @ThatsAtlanta @SteveandJtv


Movie Moment of Zen:

Beatrix. (Well played, Rian Johnson, well played)




Disclaimer: I’m an employee of Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner, however the views expressed in this post are of my own.




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