At The Movies: Looper

“Looper” is a fun, clever story dealing with time travel. Like most time travel stories it will make your head spin — but not so badly that it goes hurtling out of orbit.

Let’s see if I can break it down without having a breakdown. The movie takes place in the year 2044. Thirty years in the future (from that future date) someone will invent time travel. Authorities will determine that time travel is too dangerous and it will be made illegal. And you know what that means — if you outlaw time machines, only outlaws will have time machines.

Organized crime decides that the best use of time travel is as a method for disposing of one’s enemies (it turns out it’s very hard to hide a dead body in the year 2074). The Mob sends Abe (Jeff Daniels) back in time to set up the system. Abe hires killers, known as “loopers,” to shoot people who are sent back in time and dispose of the bodies.

Are you still with me? Good, ’cause here’s where it gets complicated. Since The Mob doesn’t like loose ends, all loopers eventually have to kill themselves — or rather their older selves who have been sent back in time for execution. After you kill your older self, you’re given several gold bars with which to enjoy the next 30 years until The Mob comes along and ties you up and sends you back in time so you can be shot by yourself.

Trust me, it makes more sense when you’re watching it unfold on screen.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a looper named Joe. Life is going according to plan for Joe until he hears rumors of a mystery man in the future called The Rainmaker who is causing a lot of trouble for The Mob and is trying to kill off all the loopers.

Joe notices several of his fellow loopers are indeed going into early retirement. When the time comes for Joe to do in his counterpart (Bruce Willis), he hesitates and Old Joe escapes.

Needless to say, Abe doesn’t take kindly to a condemned man escaping, so now all his resources are going out to kill Joe and Old Joe. Joe confronts Old Joe and learns that he has come back in time — Terminator-style — to kill The Rainmaker and put everything right. Of course, at this time The Rainmaker is a small child and Old Joe doesn’t know exactly who he is but has three potential targets. Joe just wants to kill Old Joe and get his life back on track.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson (“Brick,” “Brothers Bloom”), “Looper” is smart, thrilling and engaging. The story twists and turns but you never get lost in it — at least I didn’t, and I have a tendency to get lost in complex plots.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn’t look much like a young Bruce Willis, but he captures many of his mannerisms. Both actors offer good performances, along with Emily Blunt as a woman who may be the mother of The Rainmaker.

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