Thursday Night Movie Club
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Release Date: 28 September 2012

Director: Rian Johnson
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Bruce Willis
Emily Blunt
Paul Dano
Noah Segan
Piper Perabo
Jeff Daniels
Pierce Gagnon
Qing Xu
Tracie Thoms
Frank Brennan
Garret Dillahunt
Nick Gomez
Marcus Hester
Jon Eyez
Old Joe
Kid Blue
Old Joe's Wife
Old Seth
Gat Man
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt in LooperSay it isn't so! Not another time travel movie! Looper is a mess of a movie. It is convoluted, crossing several differing and yet convergent time lines. Yes, this is yet another installment in the time-honored tradition of time travel films. However, Looper is quite different from any other film of this type. It is fresh, new, clever, exciting and the screenplay and the film's development by director Rian Johnson keeps the audience guessing until the very last frame. Quite an achievement.

In the not so distant future, society has deteriorated to the point where folks can and do take matters into their own hands to protect what belongs to them. They kill anyone who gets to close to their personal space, with seemingly no fear of reprisals. The police force is almost nonexistent.

Entering this bleak world is a drug-addicted hitman named Joe (Gordon-Levitt). In the not so distant future, time travel is discovered and immediately outlawed. Just like modern times, the only people who can use this “weapon” is the criminals. Mob gangs use the time travel device to liquidate enemies. The idea is simple: bind an enemy, put a blind fold over his eyes, send him to a past time where he is immediately shot dead by a “Looper”. Strapped to the back of the hapless victim are bars of silver which constitute payment for the hit. The Looper immediately shoots dead anyone who is sent to him. All he has to do is dispose of the corpse where no one will find it. The end result is that this person never existed. Sort of a retro-active abortion if you will.

Bruce Willis in LooperSetting up Joe's personal conflict to come, Joe's friend and fellow Looper Seth (Paul Dano) runs into a snag. He has been tasked with “closing the loop”, meaning he gets to kill his future self and in return he is given gold bars instead of silver. This sum of money is enough to comfortably retire. Unless of course, the Looper fails to fulfill the contract and allows his future self to escape. Old Seth is trying to flee the city of the past when he discovers a brand on his arm. This is a message to go to a certain address in fifteen minutes. While Old Seth is trying to figure out the meaning of this message, he is suddenly loosing his fingers. By the time he gets to the address, he loses both his feet and hands. Inside the building is his current self being brutally tortured.

Joe now runs into his own problem. He is sent on a hit. The target arrives late raising Joe's suspicions. When the target arrives, the man is the older incarnation of himself (Willis). Strangely, Old Joe is not blindfolded nor is he bound. He promptly escapes reeking havoc for Joe.

Emily Blunt in LooperBut how does Joe become the older man? In another scenario, Joe shoots a blindfolded and bound Old Joe and collects the gold bars strapped to the target. Joe then moves to Shanghai where he lives off of his money, still addicted to drugs. He runs through the money quickly. As he ages into Old Joe, he must resume a life of petty crime to pay for his drugs. Old Joe meets a Chinese woman (Qing Xu) who will change his life. Old Joe falls in love. She helps him kick his drug habit. Old Joe is finally happy.

But the future is a nasty place. A new mob boss known only as The Rainmaker takes over and immediately starts killing off the Loopers. Old Joe is captured and sent back in time to be executed. Two alternate scenarios play out with Old Joe. In one instance, Old Joe knows he is marked for death. He overpowers his captors and voluntarily goes back in time to find and kill the Rainmaker and save his wife. In the other instance, Joe's wife is killed and Joe is sent back in time where he is killed by his younger self.

So, what do we have? The future is not set in stone. The slightest change in current events can have a profound impact on the future. Young Joe is in conflict with his older self. Young Joe hasn't lead his life yet. He wants to make his own decisions. He must kill Old Joe to get his own life back. Old Joe must track down the young Rainmaker and kill him, at all costs.

Kudos go to director Rian Johnson for even considering making this move, and better still, being able to pull it off. He keeps the pace moving briskly. The violence is minimalized except for a few key moments.

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in LooperJoseph Gordon-Levitt gets a special nod. Through facial makeup and prosthetics, he is made up to resemble a younger Bruce Willis. Gordon-Levitt does a great job mimicking Willis' trademark scowl and his mannerisms.

Unfortunately, the film revolves almost entirely around Young Joe so Bruce Willis does not have much to do. Most of his speaking lines come in a great confrontation between Old Joe and Young Joe in Joe's favorite diner. Old Joe knows exactly what will happen to his younger self. But having fallen in love, Old Joe does not want his current life to change its path. Young Joe has no idea what the future has in store for him and he wants to experience his life on his terms, not those dictated to him by him. Old Joe can clearly see himself in his youth. Young Joe is rather disgusted by how he turned out. It is an interesting dicotomy played out by the two actors, one is an up and coming actor while the other has been around the block a few times.

Jeff Daniels in LooperJeff Daniels is excellent as Abe. Abe is a mobster from the future who's job is to insure that the hits taking place in the present time are carried out efficiently. Daniels' performance is subtle but there is always a layer of malice just underneath his calm exterior. Abe is kindly and gentle, as long as everything goes according to plan. He is too well connected with the police and his own thugs for anyone to cross. You don't mess around with Abe.

Looper has two stories constantly playing out. Young Joe has two possible futures. Old Joe has two futures. And the events surrounding the Rainmaker have two possible scenarios. In all cases, both futures play out with extremely different results. The film is not as confusing as any attempt to describe it no doubt would be. Be patient. Enjoy, your questions will be answered.