TIME TRAVEL FOR THE THINKING-MAN
Australia: 27th October, 2012 USA: 28th September, 2012; UK: 28th October 2012
Other Countries: Release Dates
Time travel is a fascinating subject. The "what ifs" play with your mind, like going back to alter your future and the subsequent consequences. The most exciting ideas they pose are the difficult moral questions. If you had the chance to kill Hitler as a child, would you? Could you stare into the eyes of an innocent child and pull the gun trigger?
Then there’s the question of knowing your own timeline. How would you live your life if you knew you had thirty years to live; no more, no less? Your choices at say twenty-five may look rather foolish when you’re fifty-five.
‘Looper’, a very original film from Director and screenwriter Rian Johnson poses these very questions in an intelligent and thought-provoking way. When you read the synopsis for Looper it sounds incredibly confusing but in reality it’s a simple idea. Time travel in 2074 is invented and outlawed but still used by the mob to remove targets whose bodies are difficult to hide. So they send back their victims thirty years to a designated spot at an exact time, hands tied and their heads covered in a sack. Waiting for them is a Looper, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), to kill them instantly with a blunderbuss and then dispose of their body.
Loopers are paid very well for their services and run by an underworld boss, Abe (Jeff Daniels). The only downside of a Looper’s life is that eventually the mob will ‘close the loop’ on them. They will send back the Looper’s self from the future to he killed by his thirty-year younger version, who will be paid handsomely, after which he retires to live the rest of his thirty years knowing one day his time will come.
If you dare ‘let your loop run’, which means letting your older self get away, then you are in a whole load of trouble. This is demonstrated in a particularly nasty sequence when a fellow Looper Seth (Paul Dano) is tortured, with his older self’s body instantly reflecting the impact of his younger self’s punishment. Think healed limb severing and you have the picture.
When Joe’s older self (Bruce Willis) escapes execution by his younger self, we discover he is on a mission. He must find the 2044 child version of a powerful gangster nicknamed ‘The Rainman’ in order to save the future, or at least his future. This search brings younger Joe into contact with Sarah (Emily Blunt) living on a peaceful farm with her son Cid. It seems all roads will lead to this farm and it is here that the future will be determined.
A couple of things will strike you in this film: Joseph Gordon Levitt, who plays the younger version of Bruce Willis’s Joe, look very alike, despite being very different. In fact, it’s uncanny and you will keep marvelling at Gordon-Levitt’s Willis-like mannerisms. Secondly the crazy flying car chases that you normally find in these sci-fi films are not the centrepiece of the story.
“I had written the younger part for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who, besides being my favorite actor, is also a good friend,” says Johnson. “When the possibility of Bruce Willis to play the older Joe presented itself, I got so excited because Bruce is such a good actor and was so right for the part in so many ways. It raised a problem, though, because they really look nothing like each other. We had to find a way to bridge the gap, and the solution was two-fold.”
“The first thing was makeup,” Johnson continues. “Joseph Gordon-Levitt went through nearly three hours of makeup and prosthetics every single morning to adjust his nose, his upper lip and his lower lip. There was no way we were going to make him look like a young Bruce Willis, but we decided we’d pick a couple of key features and alter them just enough to give the audience something to grab onto so they could decide to go with it.”
“The other part – 90 percent of it – is Joe’s performance,” says Johnson. “It’s incredible to watch – he doesn’t imitate Bruce, he creates a character that feels like a younger Bruce. He’s doing a very specific voice and he took on a lot of Bruce’s mannerisms. Its great acting, and a pretty phenomenal thing to see come to life.”
‘Looper’ may not appeal to those who love their sci-fi action-packed. There are thinking-man moments which require some patience. But your patience will be rewarded with this haunting piece of cinema and storytelling which is certainly a cut above anything we’ve seen in recent time-line.