Sunday, October 21, 2012

Looper

In the world of Rian Johnson's Looper the title characters are young men like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who has made a deal with the crime syndicate that controls the entire world we see in the film. Joe kills and disposes of people whom the syndicate sends back from 30 years in the future, with the understanding that one day he will kill a future version of himself. Loopers are paid in silver for their trouble; killing oneself ("closing the loop") earns a payment in gold and 30 years of freedom until that bill comes due. Joe spends his days doing the bidding of his bosses (represented by Jeff Daniels as a future gangster assigned to Joe's present) and his nights clubbing with fellow loopers like Seth (Paul Dano) and a favorite escort (Piper Perabo). But then too many loops begin to close.

Looper the movie is an argument between the two Joes, the one played by a heavily made-up Gordon-Levitt in the “present” and the older Joe (Bruce Willis) sent back to die from 30 years in the future. Future Joe is fighting for a life he has already lived; in a montage we learn that Joe will blow his bankroll and return to crime before having his life changed by a woman (Summer Qing). The only way to prevent Joe from living the same life and then dying is for Future Joe to kill the present version of the Rainmaker, the crime boss who is closing all the loops. Got it? It’s to Rian Johnson’s credit that the movie is never unclear, but after a strong beginning Looper runs out of gas because Johnson sets up an impossible choice between trying to cling to the past and giving up agency over a life that one still has a chance to change. In the film’s present the Rainmaker is a little boy named Cid (Pierce Gagnon), but before finding him Future Joe must first work through a list of suspects based on data he has obtained before coming back. The cavalier placing of children in jeopardy sets Future Joe up as the villain, but Willis’s character is the one with something at stake. Gordon-Levitt’s Joe doesn’t have an idea in his head beyond killing the older version of himself, there’s never any real conception of what his life might be beyond his life as a Looper (besides, we’ve already seen what happens). It’s essential to Johnson’s construction of the film that Joe was an orphan drafted into criminal life as a child, otherwise he’d have to explain his choices. The present moment is all that counts for Joe; we’re supposed to be moved by his defense of Cid and his mother (Emily Blunt), but Joe’s behavior is selfish. Killing Future Joe would only ensure the same events reoccurring.

I wonder if someone has already made one of those deconstructionist YouTube videos full of questions about Looper. Why does the bulk of the movie take place on a farm? The only farm work Blunt’s character does is use an axe on a stump. Hasn’t Future Joe already changed history by surviving so long in the past? What does Jeff Daniels’ character do about the present version of himself? There are pleasures to be had, it has been a long time since I’ve seen Willis look this interested in what he was doing and Emily Blunt gives a fiercely stripped down performance as a woman trying to figure out an unexpected life day-by-day. But the rules Johnson sets up for his world smother the movie; Looper is like adding a number and the negative of the same quantity together , the result has an elegant shape but leaves an empty feeling.

1 comment:

Zizzle said...

This movie was a bit boring , I could not understand it at after all i didn't pay much for it a got a deal on a website selling restaurant deals london should have taken the happy hour in london deal instead