The Scoop: 2012 R, directed by Rian Johnson and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt
Tagline: Hunted by your future. Haunted by your past.
Summary Capsule: Time travel, assassins, and telekinesis. It’s like a royal straight, ain’t it?
Justin’s rating: I’d watch it again and again and again and again…
Justin’s review: Huh. Bruce Willis and time travel. There’d be an interesting thesis for a grad student who could figure out how to tie together Looper, The Kid and 12 Monkeys as existing in the same universe. I guess it’s just a delicious combo meal that can’t be avoided. Bruce Willis and time travel. I’ll have it with a side of fr… apple slices, please.
So it’s the grungy future, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an assassin in an unusual job. You see, in the future’s future, time travel is invented, and crooks use it to send back people to be killed so that there’s no trace of the murder in the future’s future’s time. The assassins in the future are called Loopers, because… well, I’ll let the movie explain it to you. It’s a fascinating setup that requires amoral and ambitious killers to be okay killing folks who might not even be born yet.
This is all well and good until one day, Gordon-Levitt’s assigned target is Bruce Willis, who dies hard if at he dies at all. Gordon-Levitt hesitates because he recognizes that Willis is himself from the future, and all hell breaks loose as he and his future self go on the run from the assassin agency. If you’ve seen the trailer you might be making a lot of assumptions — as I did — how the movie would play out, but trust me that you don’t. Motivations aren’t as cut and dry, and a big secret is dangled in front of you until almost the end.
I was kind of hoping that the film’s focus would be on Willis being all awesome, but it’s really Gordon-Levitt’s show (which is just fine, I guess; he’s a capable actor). The first half of the film is incredibly captivating, while the second half turn in a solid performance that doesn’t quite match the intensity and imagination of the first. By the end, I was kind of feeling wrung out by a whole slew of characters I didn’t entirely like, a premise that’s really dark and seedy, and a conclusion that felt a little rushed.
Still? It’s a cool ride, especially if you are up for a blend of fun scifi themes with a dollop of action. We usually think of time travel being all awesome and exciting, but Looper shows us how it can be just as terrifying and tragic.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt had prosthetics to make him look more like Bruce Willis in order to play his younger self. He also watched a lot of Bruce Willis films in preparation for the role so that he could impersonate some of his mannerisms.
- The cash that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe receives for two bars of silver at the film’s beginning bear an image of China’s Mao Zedong.
- The cloud motif
Abe: This time travel crap, just fries your brain like a egg…
Joe: I work as a specialized assassin, in an outfit called the Loopers. When my organization from the future wants someone to die, they zap them back to me and I eliminate the target from the future. The only rule is: never let your target escape… even if your target is you.
Older Joe: I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.
Joe: I’m going to France.
Abe: I’m from the future. You should go to China.
Sara: This is a Remington 870. One blast could cut you the fuck in half.
Joe: …in half, yeah, that’s telling. You’re holding a gun, I say I’m not afraid, so you describe the gun to me. It’s not the gun I’m not afraid of.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- 12 Monkeys
- The Terminator
- The Fifth Element