In life, everything always comes back from where it came, sooner or later, a universal dogma that is just as true as ever for Joe, the young/older protagonist of Looper, an underrated and exciting 2012 science fiction movie.
Indeed, Looper is a term invented in an alternate future where time travel is an actual reality and, predictably, is available only to the richest and cruelest corporations and criminal gangs.
Specifically, a looper is a highly distinctive killer: he does not know his victims either before or after killing them, and simply waits at a specific place and time for the package to arrive from the future and shoots at whoever is in front of him.
Finally, Joe is nearing the end of his career, earning enough to afford unbridled luxury for the next 30 years, but no more.
Unfortunately, the price of this luxury is exceptionally high: the corporations cannot allow the loopers to survive beyond that, as they would be living proof of all their crimes.
Thus, Joe‘s last job is to kill himself, but when he encounters his old correspondent from the future, the latter unexpectedly reacts and succeeds in escaping.
At that point, young Joe has no choice but to hunt himself down, otherwise Boss Abe and his army of henchmen will take out both of them without hesitation.
However, old Joe is not back by coincidence: he is attempting to stop a powerful criminal from the future called the Rainmaker, someone who has become so powerful he can mercilessly slaughter all loopers.
Alone and with no more friends he can trust, even young Joe must flee, finding refuge in the remote house of beautiful Sara and her small son Sid, awaiting a total final confrontation that is now inevitable.
A perfect modern, old-fashioned movie
Looper is a movie that was a great success in 2012, although today it is perhaps forgotten, thanks to its many facets succeeding in harmoniously coexisting.
Within a formula with perfect doses, it blends action and crime, science fiction with intricate paradoxes, and we even find a place for romance and positive feelings.
Rian Johnson directs and writes a story that flows smoothly, free of boredom, and without inconsistencies, transporting the viewer with impeccable narration without any hitch that could bore or compromise engagement with what is happening on the screen.
Moreover, it is a show that fortunately does not heavily rely on special effects but, on the contrary, masterfully exploits all the little tricks of cinema, from editing to dramatic shots, time ellipses, and flashbacks, as well as a series of characters with ambiguous tonalities and well-defined motivations.
In short, we are talking about the kind of sci-fi most dear to every cinema lover: the type with both heart and brains, telling what our society is and what it could become, doing it moreover without being boring or coming across as stupid and excessively.
I found all the criticism of the Johnson-directed Star Wars chapter, “The Last Jedi,” extremely unfair; which instead successfully brought back some epic adventure and an aesthetic worthy of admiration to a saga that, let’s face it, is now only tiring and shredded by sequels.
With Looper, the director is free to tell what he wants and how he wants, and the greatest mystery is how he makes it all so simple in our eyes while still telling a multi-layered story without messing up any of the interlocking pieces necessary to complete the mechanism.
Except for the direction and script, which I find perfect, what should I say about the cast?
First of all, I want to praise Johnson again for the editing knot with which he briefly recounts, in just a few minutes, an entire life with the transition from one to the other, with the criminal becoming progressively wilder until he loses everything and only then finding love, which literally saves him.
Willis certainly needs no introduction, as with a few moments already, he creates a terrific character, an underdog who finally found a cause to fight and even die if necessary.
In contrast, I have never been a big fan of Gordon-Levitt. Not that I think he is a lousy actor, mind you; let’s just say he has never been a favorite of mine.
Yet here I admired how perfectly he captured the role, going from being a drug-addled killer thinking only about himself and later coming face to face with his future, and more, especially when he meets the romantic loner Emily Blunt.
I had already written about how much I liked the actress in movies like Sicario, A Quiet Place, or Edge of Tomorrow; still, the beautiful Emily does even better in this case, imposing her presence despite appearing practically only halfway through the story.
It is an exceptional role for her to play the protective mother against a fate that seems to leave no one a chance, but her relationship with Gordon-Levitt is certainly one of the movie’s strongest points.
Last but not least, in terms of talent, we have the excellent Jeff Daniels as the evil mob boss (and with no mercy toward the fugitive loopers) and the usually wry and funny Garret Dillahunt, here instead as an unusual ruthless killer.