Matt Chapman finds that watching Jo Gordon-Levitt become Bruce Willis is time very well spent…
He’s got a point. But the bigger surprise is that Looper is, basically, every time travel movie you’ve ever seen. And you’ll still come out at the end and think it’s a cracker.
Where some films would be afraid to dip their toes in the already murky waters of previous time-bending flicks, Looper practically drowns itself. It manages to – we have to assume consciously – allude to so many other works in this genre that it is almost more of a mash up than a gentle homage.
The plot sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the man crush continues) as a heartless killer, blowing away people sent back in time by future mobsters who are finding it a little difficult to get rid of bodies. Only problem is this gig has a life expectancy and when the loop is closed the assassin kills his future self and gets a big payoff – all in the knowledge he’ll be sent back in 30 years’ time as a victim of his own gun. Understandably, Bruce Willis (the older version of Gordon-Levitt) is unhappy with this turn of events and decides to do a runner.
Willis himself must feel the familiar turf beneath his boots as he plays a man from a messed up future stepping back into a past he’s not sure he can save (a la 12 Monkeys). Even the diner he chows down in with his younger incarnation recalls The Kid, when a younger Willis met the older version of himself and was appalled at what he saw. It all sounds very familiar.
Throw in the fact that one of the actors tracking down Willis and Gordon-Levitt is Garret Dillahunt, who played The Terminator in the short-lived TV series, and the knowing winks are starting to look like someone having a stroke.
If all that sounds like you won’t see anything new in Looper, think again. While it borrows some of the well-worn plotting of previous time-twisters it still has plenty of fresh ideas of its own. One of those – and we won’t say which but trust us you’ll know when you see it – is one of the best uses of time travel we’ve ever seen.
And that’s all we’re going to say. Because this is one of those films it is much better to see not knowing where the twists in the road lead. We’re thinking about your future here people – and we don’t want to kill it.
* Although weirdly this quote doesn’t actually appear in the Looper film review itself.