Film noir has not been a traditionally successful genre in the last twenty years. Then along came Rian Johnson and changed all that. He took the leads who provide the context for the audience, the women who lead them to their fall, and hard times where morally ambivalent men succeed and reformatted it for the 21st century. The man is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the year is 2044 and the occupation is looping.
Joe is a cocky young man and he has little time for anything other than making money and planning on getting out of the country. His profession is explained in few words and without dumbing it down.
Loopers are not forward-thinking people, Joe explains. They are contracted to kill people who don't yet exist in this time and collect the precious metals that come with the body. They are rewarded quite handsomely for this task, but it comes with strings: eventually they have to kill themselves. Killing your future self usually goes off without a hitch. Blunderbuss in hand, Joe waits until a masked figure appears in front of him. What happens next is unexpected.
Elder Joe (Bruce Willis at the best he's been in a long time) is ready: he strikes first and leaves everything in chaos. The consequences for the elder Joe running around are almost unfathomable. The consequences for current Joe are even more harsh. Where elder Joe comes from is a horrifying place and he must change the past if his younger self is going to be able to find the same happiness he has.
Willis and Gordon-Levitt sets the tone of the film immediately: there is more at stake than the whims of a wayward twenty-something. Many people will die.
Initially a questionable aspect, Joe's visage seems a little strange, but Levitt picks up every nuance and mannerism of a young Bruce Willis. When the two interact for their first sit down scene, no qualms are had about prosthetics at all. The following collision course that takes place between the two men ranks as one of the most haunting representations of seeing who you are become corrupted right in front of you. The diner scene between
By attaching himself to original concepts such as this, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has quickly become one of the most interesting leading men in Hollywood, with directors like Rian Johnson guiding him, he has nowhere to go but up.
Much like its lead actor, Looper is destined for higher things. It is fated to become a sci-fi classic.
***1/2 out of ****