Looper - the new film from Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) – is a future full of contradictions. From the sprawling metropolises to the farmhouses and fields on the outskirts, from sending captives from the future back in time thirty years to be killed by trained assassins who, in thirty years themselves, will be sent back in time to be killed by their younger selves, even between Young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Old Joe (Bruce Willis), everything in this world is at odds with itself. It’s the most interesting part of Looper; unfortunately, it is also the least explored part of it.
The first third of the film is is not only visceral, it’s cerebral: it’s got guts and grit. Young Joe is a drug-addicted assassin with obviously questionable morals and yet one senses something deeper beneath the veneer. The year 2044 is kind of shitty but it isn’t apocalyptic – there are good things and bad things just like now, but technology is cooler and some people, it’s been discovered, have telekinesis. Even Abe (Jeff Daniels), our true villain sent from 2074 to train and command the assassins, is a dangerously cool, smart, and intense Big Bad Bossman.
Eventually, a looper (as the assassins are called) must close his loop (i.e. retire), which includes the aforementioned killing of oneself from thirty years in the future, with the stipulation that you get thirty years of awesome. Well, Young Joe messes it up, and then something happens.
And then. Something happens.
The film switches gears and goes into full-on Hollywood mode. Instead of continuing with the cerebral, visceral atmosphere it had begun, we discover there is a Really Big Bad Bossman in 2074 who “legend has it, came from nowhere” and goes by the name Rainmaker. Rainmaker is closing loops. Old Joe has come back in time to kill Rainmaker when he is a little boy so no Bad Things Happen (i.e. Old Joe’s Asian wife who has no speaking lines gets killed even though it’s really really hard to kill people in 2074 because that’s why they send bad guys back in time to dispose of bodies but never mind Old Joe needs stuff to hurt about because reasons).
There isn’t much else to say about this film after the first third, but here a few things to ponder: 1) Why are there no female loopers? 2) There are three women in this film; one is a prostitute, one is a former slutty party girl, and the other is a nonspeaking Reason for Stuff; 3) The time travel in this movie is, as far as most time travel movies go, mostly sound (i.e. it is probably the least issue-y of the issues with this film) but it still makes little sense at the end (listen to the spoilercast for more on this).