Looper (2012)

Rian Johnson is one of my favorite directors working today so it’s no surprise that Looper is my pick of the week. If you like your science fiction smart and well-made, then this pick is for you. Time travel is especially slippery to tackle so Johnson gets further props for integrating a future world with the minefield of time travel and mutants with his unmistakeable style. Yup, I said mutants.

The year is 2042. The main plot of Looper involves a hit man played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who disposes of criminals from the future when sent back in time for execution. Things go awry when the “hit” winds up being Gordon’s future self played by Bruce Willis, who has no intention of being killed or stopped from a personal mission to save his own future happiness.

As you can imagine, the future isn’t so hot. Mankind continues to dig a huge hole for itself by allowing the poor to suffer while the elite enjoy untold privileges. Johnson does a wonderful job showcasing new technology and a future lifestyle with a limited budget. Although the story moves from a congested, filthy city to a rural farmhouse, we still get nice glimpses of what life will be like thirty years from now.

Even if you know nothing about the film, you can rightly assume the acting is stellar simply by looking at the cast list. What you may be less aware of is how unique Johnson’s vision is. Each shot seems to be composed with thought and shot with care. The cinematography heaps another layer of awesome onto the direction along with great visual effects which are used sparingly.

I would have to say that my only criticism would be [SPOILER ALERT] the importance of a powerful telekinetic to the ending.  In my opinion, the film would’ve worked just fine without the mutant reveal (although to be fair, it’s shot amazingly well). The world Johnson creates doesn’t require a “magical” element to tell the story of a villain coming to power in 2072. It’s like Blade Runner meets Scanners…two films I adore. That said, everything Johnson serves up is worth experiencing.

Intelligent sci-fi. It’s not a given just because you need a vision of how life could be with advanced technology. What makes Looper so smart is how it deals with the issues it puts forward. You get plenty to think about while you imagine the dilemma of altering your future…by killing yourself? Yikes. It’s a mind-bender but the best kind of brain circus. There’s all sorts of smart packaged in art and that’s rare these days-especially in mainstream science fiction.

Looper is in theaters now.

Looper Trailer