Cast:Joseph Gordon-Levitt,Bruce Willis,Emily Blunt,Jeff Daniels
Director: Rian Johnson
Indian Express Rating: ****
TIME travel is a conveninent science fiction tool,allowing many a story to cut corners and jump loopholes. Not here. In Looper,it’s a starting point to tell a story about actions,consequences and choices — the smaller moments,not 30-year back-and-forth travel,which bend and shape lives.
Johnson handles these moments with a startlingly light but assured touch,giving us heartwarming stories even as he is building a bleak futuristic city populated by largely killers,junkies and a corn field. As the two characters at the very centre of it,Gordon-Levitt and Blunt offer a tragic romance as good as any.
Gordon-Levitt doesn’t start that way. Where he starts is as a “looper” named Joe,one of the Mob’s hired guns. Joe lives in the year 2044,and the people he kills are sent back to him from the year 2074. Apparently in the future,getting rid of bodies is almost impossible and so the Mob would rather have an entire outfit of killers called “loopers” in the past,sending them targets at specific times. The targets appear before the loopers hands tied and faces covered,on a white sheet next to a cornfield,and are shot through the chest,no questions asked or pauses taken. The targets come with “silver bars” attached to their bodies,as payment for the “loopers”. Sometimes,they appear with “gold bars”,which is a sign that the target is none other than the looper himself 30 years from now — essentially,his time is now limited but with enough money to spend it partying.
All this doesn’t sound very reassuring,but Loopers knows better than to stick too long with the “messy” details of time travel. It’s more interested in what happens when Joe lets his older self (played by Willis) escape,inviting death upon himself,or when the two Joes debate their lives and whose onus it is to change it. The senior Joe’s wife was killed by the Mob while transporting him into the past,and he is determined to change that.
On the run,the younger Joe meets Sara (Blunt) and her son Sid. Sid is among the three children the older Joe wants to kill as one among them grew up to make the future where the Mob rules.
Can a predetermined future be changed,or does it all rest on a predetermined past? In the midst of the mayhem unleashed by the Mob,the film raises and proceeds to answer the question.
It starts with one end of the loop and posits itself at the other. A loop after all can begin either way,but as the film underlines,for it to end,all it takes is any one point to pull away.