“Looper” is written and directed by Rian Johnson, the mind behind the excellent neo-noir film “Brick.” Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Also from “Brick”) and Bruce Willis, the film has all the ingredients of a great thriller. I came in with high expectations, and was unfortunately disappointed.
The story revolves around the idea that mobsters of the future have a hard time disposing of bodies, due to tracking, forensics, etc. To solve this problem, they send one of their own back in time thirty years to set up a hit-man ring. Then they just send potential victims back in time to be murdered and disposed of, achieving the perfect crime. Eventually, for reasons that are never adequately explained, the Mobsters will hunt down the retired hit-men and send them back in time to be murdered by their 30-years-younger selves, which is called closing the loop. These callow, young men mostly comply with this, because it comes with a stack of gold, and at their young age, they figure a fortune and 30 years to spend it is all they need from life. Joe (Gordon-Levitt), however, finds that his older self isn’t so easy to kill. When Old Joe (Willis) escapes, Joe pursues him, trying to stay one step ahead of his angry boss.
It’s a decent story setup except for the glaring question of why these future Mobsters decide to close all those loops. Why not just let the old hit-men live out their lives in retirement? The suggestion is that it’s because they could potentially testify against the Mobsters regarding their illegal use of time travel, but that doesn’t really explain it. What about the henchmen who throw the victims into the time machine? They could potentially rat their bosses out, too.
If this were the only example of poor plot development in “Loopers” I could let it go. Unfortunately, the film is a mine-field of inexplicable actions on the part of it’s characters, not to mention very sloppy handling of the time-travel paradox. My final complaint is that the film features the hunting down and killing of children, as Old Joe tries to prevent a future Mob boss from growing up. A movie has to be really good to justify the melodrama of putting children or animals in danger, and “Loopers” does not meet that standard.
Having said all that, the film is very stylishly done. Rian Johnson is an excellent filmmaker, I think he just needs some help on the writing side. Gordon-Levitt and Willis are also excellent, both giving compelling performances that make the film somewhat watch-able despite its plot problems. Still, if I could go back in time, I would probably tell my slightly younger self to watch something else.
2 stars out of 5