Sunday, September 30, 2012
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as younger and older versions of the same man in “Looper,” a time-travel action adventure that starts out interesting and becomes less so as it goes. It’s one of those futuristic movies in which, only thirty years from now, American life has become unrecognizable. The country is divided into five “zones” (it’s always zones in these pictures). Time travel is possible, but has been banned by the government. Oh, yeah, everybody’s downtrodden, but you knew that, right?
JGL plays a “looper” named Joe. Loopers are employees of the mobs of the future. When the mafiosi want to eradicate any trace of those they’ve offed, they transport them 30 years into the past, where JGL waits (always in the same open field, always at 11:30 a.m.) to kill them with a can’t-miss gun called a blunderbuss that only works within 15 yards. Occasionally, a looper is asked to “close the loop”; i.e., to kill his future self, an act that triggers a big financial bonus but, as you might expect, certain less-than-pleasant thoughts.
Thus, one day, does Joe’s doppelganger (Willis) plop down in the field, using Joe’s momentary indecision to coldcock him and set out running into the distance. JGL holes up at a farmhouse, where a mother (Emily Blunt, disappearing into another fine role after “Your Sister’s Sister”) and her young son (who may or may not become the future supervillain known as “The Rainmaker”) settle into an uneasy harboring arrangement with Joe, who sleeps among the cane and communicates with them via makeshift walkie-talkies in case either Willis or the henchmen chasing Joe (who helped a fellow looper – Paul Dano in his briefest (and thus best) role to date – hide out after failing to close his loop) draw near.
As I say, the movie gets off to an exciting start, with a nice set-up and a clearly defined set of rules. But it ends up breaking more than one of them, and the second half drags. Ultimately, what I got out of “Looper” was a wish for my Christmas list. Not for a time-travel machine, or a blunderbuss – no, I want one of those little squeaky frog toys that I can squeeze and JGL will come running to my bedroom in the night.