Throw logic out the window take a wild ride with time-traveling assassins
Dateline: 2044. The mean streets of America are looking even more ghetto than they do in 2012 (I’m assuming that Romney won the upcoming election in this movie’s timeline). And apparently all the cops have been fired, since there are none on display, which makes things easier for our Looper, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Joe and his fellow Loopers are hit men, and their job in the scheme of things is to show up in an isolated patch of cornfield, lay down a tarp and wait for a package to arrive from 30 years in the future. The packages are bound-and-hooded folks who the future needs to get rid of in the past because apparently gangland executions 30 years from now are even more illegal. Joe and his cronies promptly blow these dudes away and dispose of the bodies and pocket silver bars for their day’s work, which they generally spend on rocket cycles, drugs and hookers: the good life.
Unfortunately, in the future there’s been a coup, and the Loopers are increasingly finding themselves whacking their future selves for a severance package of gold bars. There are some mixed feelings on this, but these guys are pros. That is, until one of the other Loopers lets his future self get away; then things start to get ugly. It’s not pretty how the problem is resolved. So, Joe should know better when his own future self arrives for closure of the loop. Maybe it’s because Joe is flabbergasted because he ends up looking like Bruce Willis in 30 short years, but he hesitates on the trigger and Old Joe promptly knocks Young Joe out and sets off to …
… well, it’s kind of like the first Terminator, with all sorts of time-space continuum paradoxes and other nonsense that doesn’t really add up when looked back on, but is sort of neat while it’s happening. That’s not to say that the movie is bad, because it’s not. It’s a loopy popcorner that works perfectly well if you just go with the flow and don’t give too much thought to the nonsense it’s trying to sell.
Actually, it doesn’t try to sell it too hard. When it comes time to explain the basic rules of time travel, Willis (filling in for writer/director Rian Johnson) waves a dismissive hand and says the mechanics of time travel are “cloudy.” Maybe they’re using a Magic 8 Ball?
Johnson is the guy who did the high-school noir thriller Brick, so the style is stylish, the patter is snappy, the toys are flashy and the mayhem is delivered in frequent enough doses to keep us distracted and not give the details more than a cursory glance.