Nerdlocker Movie Review: Looper


“I saw a mom who would die for her son, a man who would kill for his wife, and a boy angry and alone, the bad path laid out in front of him. I saw it, and the path was a circle, round and round. So I changed it.” -L∞PER

Looper was my first introduction to Rian Johnson and what he had to offer as a filmmaker. I must admit the trailers did not do this movie justice making it look like one giant mishap. But, as word of mouth spread I decided to hold my opinion until I actually saw the movie(what a concept, huh?) I had a hunch that what I was seeing in the trailer wasn’t representative of what the movie itself had to offer and boy was I right. What appeared at face value to be some forgettable straight-to-dvd candidate turned out to be one of the most unforgettable, truly substantial sci-fi films ever made. Rarely had I ever experienced such attention to detail in every regard. Such attention to story, implications of time travel, the effects of overwhelming regret, the intricacies of such a turbulent lifestyle. It all fell together forming this harrowing story of self examination in the harshest, most unforgiving manner possible.

The characters are human and flawed making them fascinating to watch. A particular performance of note is given by the child actor at the center of the conflict between our hero who is both protagonist and villain. Pierce Gagnon as Cid gives one of my favorite child performances of the last decade. He emotes such grown up expressions and delivers a profound kind of innocence stolen that is absolutely heartbreaking. He creates a character that is destined to destroy humanity but through his traumatic experiences as a child you empathize with him, a future maniacal tyrant who essentially has superpowers and a tendency to use them on the innocent. His character is complex and fascinating to watch, in no small part because of Pierce Gagnon’s conviction. A young man truly ahead of his time. 

After starring in Johnson’s first feature film, the criminally underrated Brick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt returns in Looper as Joe. Known as a “looper”, he is a hitman for future souls sent back in time by his employers. The catch? One day his own self will be sent back in time and is expected to be executed like anyone else thus closing the loop and erasing any evidence of him ever being a looper in the first place. Different from any of his other performances, Levitt channels the mannerisms and physical attributes of Bruce Willis who plays the older version of Joe, a man who has already faced time and now must face the end at the hands of his younger self. The differences between a young man and his future older self are as drastic and vast as two people raised on opposite sides of the planet.

 Their differences are where the true dynamics of a troubled character lie as they face a kind of mirror that is ever so different in ways neither can fully understand. The younger Joe cannot fathom the experiences of Old Joe and Old Joe has moved far beyond the selfishness of who he used to be and what actions he took as a misguided youth. They see themselves in the other version for obvious reasons but so much is changed that enough of a chasm is formed giving way to a finale of brutal proportions and ultimately a close to their loop once and for all. 

Each man brings a nuanced approach to the same character creating moments that match one another but without ever forgetting that each version of this character is essentially two entirely different people who just happen to possess the same face, one a bit younger, one a bit aged, still very much the same, wholly unalike. Watching them clash is dramatic and engaging with a kind of tragedy that is so personal to them but somehow brings about things relatable to all of us, desires we all have had at one time or another. Desires such as wishing to change the mistakes of our past, moments that defined us in the worst ways. Or just to find those we’ve lost, hoping for a second chance at life with them, a chance we already had but desperately want again. 

If Back to the Future showed the fun side of time travel, Looper shows the more honest probability of a future stolen by the detriments of society and used for reasons most would deem entirely iniquitous. It is unforgiving and quite horrifying at times. It shows how merciless time travel could be and that it should never be used in a wayward manner or to even be considered lightly. The attention to detail is something to behold and as the film carries on and things become clearer but far more complicated the characters make decisions altering everything about who they are and who they will become. Looper is a striking look at time travel, at science fiction as a whole, and the importance of family with its negative impacts but ultimately as a source of saving grace. Those who have seen Looper know, those who haven’t are simply missing out. If Looper is about fixing mistakes then fix this one and give it a chance. 

Rated R For: strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content

Runtime: 113 minutes

After Credits Scene: No

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon

Directed By: Rian Johnson

Out of 5 Nerdskulls

Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4.5

OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls

Buy to Own: Yes

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard