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An amazing journey through time

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

looper

Special to the prospector

   “Looper,” writer/director Rian Johnson’s strikingly original third feature film, explores how time travel affects the decisions of one man’s journey.

Kansas City, the year is 2044, and time travel hasn’t been invented yet. Joe (a magnificent Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper—an assassin that takes care of people who’ve become a problem for the organized crime in the future—who enjoys the idea of living a successful, good life.

Since time travel is extremely illegal in the future, only criminal organizations can use it, and sometimes they send older versions of the loopers to “finish their contract with them” and “close the loop.”

Due to intricacies in a looper’s contract, they have 30 years to live and as a reward for killing their future selves, they receive a pile of gold (all these rules are conveyed in a very effective narration). An older version of Joe (Bruce Willis) is sent back for Joe to kill him, but he escapes. Then it is up to the young Joe to find and prevent his older self from going on a separate mission, before his contractors (led by a fantastic Jeff Daniels) find them both.

The plot contains a twisty, exciting, high-concept premise that may seem hard to take in, but isn’t thanks to Johnson’s control of the material. What makes “Looper” so much fun and exciting to watch, along with its taut and intelligent narrative, is that Johnson creates a future that feels gritty and realistic, almost like a more advanced version of today’s world.

One of the wonderful things in Johnson’s films is that he almost creates his own language, giving sort of nicknames. This happened in “Brick” and he does it again with “Looper,” especially when relating to something like guns. For example “Blunderbus’s,”  are the guns that loopers use to dispose of the bodies and a “Gat,” is a higher-ranking enforcer that uses a revolver-like gun. Within this future, and in a minor presence, there are also people with telekinetic abilities, “TKs,” who have the ability to move objects with their minds.

Though the film is largely science fiction, Johnson has no trouble in merging elements from “noir” or a chase thriller, (“The Fugitive” in particular seems like a huge influence on the film) and even some elements of a love story.

Though young Joe’s intent on finding his older version through the help of a reluctant single mother named Sara (a fierce Emily Blunt) and her son (a remarkable Pierce Gagnon), old Joe himself is set on a mission to kill the man who would grow up to be the criminal mastermind of the future, named the Rainmaker.

This is where Johnson really brings forth his themes about violent consequences and morality that can affect destiny. Ultimately all of these themes tie into the consequences of time travel.

The movie was great with stylistic directorial flourishes (that never distract), a thought-provoking script that always finds the right balance between ideas and character, a visceral and evocative score by Nathan Johnson and a beautiful production design and cinematography (shot using anamorphic 35 mm lenses). The cast was also phenomenal boasting some of their best work—Willis, who was also great in this year’s “Moonrise Kingdom” proves that he is still a great actor.

“Looper” is that great, bold sci-fi treat that is both exciting and intellectually conscious—a film that takes risks and pays off in spades. “Looper” is a film that will make you theorize about your interpretations of the film long after the lights go up. It is also the best science fiction film of the year and one of this year’s best works.

Five out of five picks.

Oscar Garza may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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