This film is billed as 'This decade's The Matrix' - dream on baby! Whilst it may not be on a par with my favourite film, Looper is clever and raises some interesting questions that require mental gymnastics to get your head around it. It will be hard to say too much about the film without giving the story - and particularly the ending away - so I'll keep to generalisations and won't spoil things for you - but only read past the spoiler alert below if you're happy to.
In the trailer, the central character Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) says "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." In a nutshell that's the story. Crime bosses in 2072 decide who they want to eliminate and send them back at an agreed time to a specific location for assassination and disposal of the body. That way they cannot be linked with the murder. Loopers are well paid and live the high life while everyone else stumbles around in an economic dystopia set in 2042. Fast cars, recreational drugs and sex are all freely available to the wealthy Loopers. They live the hedonists dream.
All is well (relatively) until a number of Loopers encounter the uneasy situation of discovering that they have just assassinated their future self - they have 'closed the loop'. Each victim has the Looper's bounty strapped to their back - a number of silver ingots. The closing of a loop is denoted by the Looper receiving payment in gold bars rather than the usual silver bars. They then realise they have 30 years left to live and are now on a trajectory that will inexorably lead to their assassination - at their own hand. They retire from the Loopers, take their stash and head for a distant land to continue their hedonism.
The film's intellectual capital is invested in exploring the effects of messing with the time-line and figuring out what the consequences might be. On the odd occasion two incarnations of the same Looper exist in the same time-space, any violence meted out on the younger version immediately appears as scar tissue on the older version. The world of the Loopers is policed by one of the future crime bosses (Abe) sent back in time to work with an army of armed thugs called Gat Men.
All is well until an extraordinarily large number of loops begin to be closed and the Loopers become suspicious as their number decrease. Joe the younger encounters Joe the senior (Bruce Willis) and the scene is set for major mayhem and a widespread blood-fest as they seek to eliminate each other whilst the Gat Men seek to eliminate them both.
An added dimension to the story is that through genetic experimentation, 10% of the population have developed limited Telekinetic powers - they are able to manipulate small objects simply by the power of thought. However, one of the film's central character's has inherited Telekinetic powers that are far beyond anyone else's which (for my timid soul) at times turns the film into more of a poltergeist/horror film than an action movie. Emily Blunt gives a tender and strong performance at Sarah who has her own set of demons to exorcise.
POSSIBLE PLOT SPOILER
What would otherwise have been a typical Bruce Willis blood-fest is saved by the twist in the end. The way the story ends holds out hope of redemption for Joe. For me, it provided the pay-off. Without it, this would have simply been another poor film copying the Die Hard genre.
Perhaps it's a product of ageing, but I am becoming increasingly uneasy with excesses of violence, blood-fests, sexual abuse and general violation of people. I am finding films that deliver these things by the bucketful harder to enjoy. In reflecting on the film with my significant other, her wisdom observed that perhaps it is only possible to reach people who are into violence and blood-fests etc with a message that redemption is possible, through films such as this. Who am I to deny someone that message? On the other hand, is it simply me becoming more sensitive, or as more and more films become more and more graphically violent, are we all becoming more desensitised?
I think the storyline is imaginative and creative but sadly the blood-fest detracted from my overall enjoyment. This film is not in the league of The Matrix or Inception but it does make you think - and grimace I'll give it 7.5/10.