Fans of Joseph Gordon Leavitt may have a difficult time recognizing him after his transformation into a younger version of Bruce Willis in this time travel thriller directed by Rian Johnson, previous director of “Brick” and “The Brothers Bloom”. Set a few decades in the future, time travel is not possible yet, but several decades after that, it has been developed but is strictly illegal, so the mob uses it as a means of getting rid of their worst enemies. A recruiter played by Jeff Daniels has traveled back in time and has established a network of “loopers” who work for the organization for a period of time as assassins, who intercept the mob enemies sent back from the future, terminate them on the spot, retrieving the bounty strapped to their back, cash it in at their headquarters, and dispose of the bodies. With no body, there is no evidence of any crime being committed and it is the perfect system for the mob of the future. Because of the illegality of time travel, in order to protect the secrecy of the system, part of the contract which the loopers agree to is that at a given point in the future, their future selves will be sent back to be terminated to “close the loop”, together with a gold bonus which allows them to retire comfortably until that time arrives. The ones who are sent back in time are restrained with their heads covered and the looper never knows the identity of who he is terminating, so doesn’t discover that his loop has been closed until he goes to retrieve his pay and finds the gold bars instead of the usual silver bars. That’s when he knows his contract has been closed, and he has just killed his future self.
Also in the near future, there are some people who have developed a telekinetic ability, which essentially amounts initially to nothing more than being able to spin a quarter around in the air using the power of their minds. This ability becomes crucial to the storyline when word comes back from the future that a very powerful telekinetic has emerged in the future by the name of “The Rainmaker” who has taken over control of the government, the mob, and is a very dark and dangerous person. He has ordered the closing of all loopers contracts because when he was a little boy, he witnessed his mother being killed by a looper.Leavitt and Willis play two versions of Joe with 30 years age difference. Seth is Joe’s best friend and is also a looper, but when Seth’s future self is sent back gagged, tied and head covered with a burlap sack, he is humming his favorite song, and Seth realizes before he shoots that it is time for his loop to be closed, and the curiousity is overwhelming and he pauses to look to see what he looks like in the future, and the future-Seth runs and escapes execution. Failure to close your loop is unacceptable and creates the potential for too many loose ends for the mob, so they capture young-Seth and begin amputating body parts on him which results in the future-Seth being similarly debilitated until he turns himself in for termination.
When old Joe is designated to have his loop closed, as the termination squad arrives to take him to be transported to the past, he witnesses the love of his life murdered by the death squad and he becomes enraged and determined to go back to the past to change the future by killing the Rainmaker in the past so he can’t become such a dastardly horrible person in the future, and hopefully save the love of his life from being killed. Armed with a series of numbers with which he can track down and identify the little boy who will eventually become the Rainmaker, Joe escapes his death squad and transports himself, untethered back to face his younger self to try to convince him to join his murderous rampage.
What ensues is a paradoxical action adventure exploring the precepts of what effects our actions today have on the future, in much the same way that “The Butterfly Effect” delved into the same concepts. “Looper” is the type of movie that I really enjoy going to, much like “Prometheus” because it makes you think, and stay alert, watching for little clues and makes you ponder the movie for days, weeks, or even months later. What would be the ramifications of meeting yourself in the future or going back to your past? Do you think time travel will someday be possible? Some day it is completely impossible while others say it will happen. If and/or when it does, we can only hope it doesn’t end up in the hands of the criminal element like happens in “Looper”!
“Looper” is still showing in theaters and is one of those movies you may want to get on DVD when it comes out so you can watch it over and over to catch every nuance of this time travel thriller!
Comments below welcomed!