Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe who, in the year 2044, acts as a looper, a man tasked with killing and disposing with the bodies of people sent back in time from thirty years in the future, where time travel has been invented but immediately outlawed, and is only used my the mob. Going in, that was as much information as I knew, other than Joe’s future self, played by Bruce Willis, gets sent back for young Joe to kill, but promptly escapes and causes havoc for all and sundry. Also, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano all fitted in there somewhere. This limited amount of information sent my mind reeling on all kinds of directions for the film to take, with the most likely one being Young Joe and Old Joe teaming up and fighting against the men that sent Old Joe back in a classic Bruce Willis action movie style, but it turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong, and the twists this film takes were ones I was in no way prepared for, but were so much better than I could have thought up.
I think the real strength of this film is in the conversations. There are several one-on-one sit-down-and-talk scenes throughout the movie, and I think these are the best bits. Whether its Young Joe and Abe, Cid and Young Joe or the highlight, Young and Old Joe in a diner, the dialogue and performances are really given the time to shine in these moments. Elsewhere, the effects and action are also great, and Bruce Willis does get a chance to kick some ass, if only briefly. It’s probably in his contract. There’s enough humour to stop it getting too heavy (“I’m from the future; go to China.”) but this is far from a comedy, sitting more in the thought-provoking sci-fi action drama genre.
If I had to compare the film to something else it’d be Inception. Both are big budget crowd-pleasing blockbusters that have done rather well at the box office, yet prove that to be such a thing you don’t have to be mindless and inane, relying on cheap thrills, jump scares, excess nudity and giant explosions to keep entertained. They can be intelligent and character-based, with a clever script that doesn’t hold back or dumb itself down for the lowest common denominator.
So was there anything I didn’t like? Well, there’s an early scene I call the ‘Fingers Scene’ which I cannot watch because it deals with an oddly specific fear I have, and annoyingly it’s one of the few moments I’ve now seen twice (although second time around I determinedly stared offscreen and switched off my peripheral vision). There’s also a couple of minor paradoxes that are all but impossible when making a film about time travel, and to be they aren’t really plot holes as much as they’re open-ended and up for discussion, which I’m more than happy to take part in. Oh, and if you want to have a tense experience watching a film, go and see one after you passed out in it the first time, for reasons unknown. I nearly passed out again from the anticipation.
Choose film 9/10