Not to be confused with 12 Monkeys
"Hunted by your future. Haunted by your past."

Welcome to a fresh week of The Tagline! Over the weekend I got out to the movies and took in the new Bruce Willis/Joseph Gordon-Levitt flick Looper. Taking place in the year 2042, Looper stars JGL as Joe, a specialized assassin used by criminal syndicates in the future. Because it's very difficult to discreetly dispose of someone in 2072, the syndicates instead use illegal time travel tech to send the people into the past, where loopers (the assassins) wait to kill and dispose of the future people. The victims are sent back with the loopers payment strapped to their backs in the form of silver bars. There's a catch for the loopers though. To keep loose ends tied up, loopers sign a contract, agreeing that their last assassination will be of themselves from 30 years in the future. As the movie begins, many loopers are having their contracts terminated all at once. The prevailing rumor is that a new crime boss, known only as "the rainmaker" has suddenly seized control of all criminal operations, and is terminating the contracts of all loopers. When Joe's future self is sent back, he manages to evade past Joe's attempts to kill him, and seems intent on finding the "rainmaker" and killing him/her (he doesn't even know that much) before he/she can ever become a threat.

Look how cool we are in our sports cars. So what if we'll be
dead in 30 years, that's like FOREVER FROM NOW.
What follows is a science fiction film that is both thoughtful, and exciting. Rather than simply using it as set dressing, the future setting, with the implications of time travel, add real nuance to the film, and also complicate the plot. The nature of the connection between Joe and his future self for instance, complicates Joe's efforts to track his older self down (in an attempt to get the present day mob off his back). Despite the thought put into the time travel aspects, Looper is ultimately not a movie about time travel, but rather about characters in a world where there is time travel. Having two versions of the same character acting independent of each other makes for a really interesting perspective on that character. The film presents a view of time travel (and through it a view of human nature) that suggests that an individual can decide his own fate, rather than it being a 'closed loop' doomed to repeat itself. In that way it presents a view of time travel that is very much the opposite of another Bruce Willis movie, 12 Monkeys (which I recommend you see, and might review some time in the future) where the character's attempts to change the future just end up causing the future.

This still kind of blows my mind to watch in motion.
The effects on display in the movie are pretty great and contribute to creating a coherent and believable future setting. The cities are crowded with homeless people and rife with violence, worn down buildings juxtaposed with shiny futuristic looking structures, and old jury-rigged solar powered cars (with panels lashed to their hoods) next to shiny hovercycles (that work really poorly). Definitely the wildest thing that they did for the movie to me is still making JGL look like Bruce Willis. They did this through the use of a facial prosthesis, which makes his performance even more impressive. Apparently Gordon-Levitt spent a lot of time preparing for the movie by watching Bruce Willis movies, so he could impersonate his mannerisms, and the work really shows. Even when put directly next to the real thing, conversing with him, there is a marked similarity that adds something to the movie. For that I say bravo JGL, you earned your keep for this film. Supporting cast include Emily Blunt as the mother of maybe a telekinetic mass murderer, Jeff Daniels as Abe, the guy running the looper game in the present (and the cruddy city they work in) and a variety of other people who get shot.

He's a hitman so... yeah people are gonna die.
I should mention that. Yes this movie is packed  with a pretty hefty dose of violence. I'll admit that there are large stretches where nothing violent happens, but when the guns come out, lots of people end up dead and everyone else generally ends up covered in blood. So if you don't like violence and blood... well I think you'd probably know not to go to a movie about hit men, but here's your fair warning.

So far there seems to be pretty unanimous approval for the movie, it's grossed around 40 million dollars as of this writing (that's with two weekends under its belt in the U.S.) and critics are almost all giving the thumbs up. The few who aren't seem to disapprove of the fact that the movie isn't obsessed with explaining the minutiae of time travel (Bruce Willis is pretty deadset against wasting time on bullshitting about time travel with his younger self for sure) and to those people all I have to say is WHO CARES. If you want to spend hours debating time travel theories, do it on the internet, I don't want to watch a movie where that's the whole point. No one does except for you.

That's it for Looper, join me on Thursday when I serve up a dose of comic inspired violence!

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