In 2044, following the economic collapse of the USA and the rise of the Chinese Yuan, Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works in Kansas City as a Looper, performing hits for the mob on people sent back in time from 2074.
At the end of a looper's contract, their future self is sent back to be killed by their past self, but when Joe's older self (Bruce Willis) escapes, Joe must hunt him down or risk the wrath of the mob.
Looper was immediately added to my watch list when Empire gave it the coveted 5-star rating. My girlfriend didn't take much persuading with Gordon-Levitt as suitable eye candy, so what better way to spend a Saturday night than with me appreciating the finer point of movie making, while she drools helplessly over the younger Joe.
Naturally, I joke. She has as much interest in films as I do, and it turns out her eye candy opportunity was ruined when she learnt that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face had been digitally enhanced (if enhanced is the correct term when looking more like an older bald man) to look more like Bruce Willis.
Looper suffers all of the standard problems with time travel films and is naturally littered with loop holes as the past, future and present clash in a cacophony of time errors. It does covers most of the bases (a horrific scene towards the start of the film shows how injuries to a present character affects their future self), but I don't think it is possible to have a time travel film without the bog standard problems (does Joe's future self remember talking to his past self, and if so, why doesn't he change things... etc etc). On a side note, the mess of time travel was later explored in Saturday night's Doctor Who.
What Looper does do well is mash together a whole host of genres and still end up with a coherant story at the end of it. Horror, romance, comedy, science fiction and drama are all on show here and unlike other films that attempt to combine fear with laughs, it doesn't help up as a corny spoof that undermines the film's message.
A political side is even explored. According to Looper in 32 years time America will have collapsed in a hobo-filled mess and China will become the dominant country. Not difficult to imagine by today's economic climate, but it is certainly a brave move for a Hollywood film to feature this, risking the isolation of America's more patriotic citizens. This said, and it is obvious why, for the first time ever, an American film achieved a higher gross opening weekend in China than it did in the United States.
The main reason for the Chinese success of Looper is thanks to its Chinese-aided funding. The plot was originally going to feature director/writer Rian Johnson's beloved Paris as the rising economy (references are still made to wanting to travel to France's capital). With the Chinese funding, the location was changed and while the cynical part of me wants to criticise Johnson for selling out, this change probably aided the film as China is clearly a more formidable threat to the United States' dominant economy than a French city whose greatest landmark was built as a pylon.
But I digress. I went to see Looper because it was critically acclaimed, and I wasn't disappointed. It is superbly acted and potential plot holes have been very well covered (albeit not completely), proving that it is also a very well thought out piece. It is certain to shock, enthral and potentially even have you reaching for the tissues at the end.