Time travel has been invented, but it is so expensive that only criminals can use it. So the new trade has appeared: in 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by transporting back Joe's future self.
There are two easy ways to tell whether the movie is good or not. Firstly, you should ask how many times during the showing you have been distracted from the storyline and the action. Good movie, quite obviously, will easily manage to grasp your attention from the start to the very end. Secondly, after watching a good movie one always realises how crappy the other movies recently watched were. That happened, for example, after watching the Artist: how awesome that movie was compared to all the other staff that went off the press previous winter?
Looper passes both tests so easily, that you start to wonder what other people in the industry are doing at the moment. The storyline is absolutely impeccable in terms of the interest it generates. Tens of questions and unknowns thrown at you every five minutes; action unfolds unbelievably quickly and seemingly spirals out of the control, yet taken under control so beautifully and gracefully that Inception plot will look like an amateur’s work. Smart game about one-way time travel paid off, numerous tricks and treats are hidden inside the plot, and the final logical loop closes only with the final frames of the movie.
And, as per the second test, the movie does indeed make you wonder why this quality of plot is so rare these days. Go back to other action movies of the season: Spider Man had glossy NY but did not have story line; The Dark Knight was hellishly boring first hour and a half; Bourne lacked turns and felt like unsalted butter; Expendables were second-hand. Looper, as any good movie, raised the standards. It feels embarrassing to talk about other action movies mentioned in light of the new evidence: action movie as a genre is alive and well, and I can only say “More of that, please”. This kind of excitement about the tightly twisted storyline occurred to me last time only after Inception, yet this is far more superior and smarter. It forces you to try to find answers yourself, rather than sit and wait for them to get delivered.
The storyline is not good enough alone, of course – the cast made this film happen. Bruce Willis, by the way, does not make much of the magic this time, he just smiles with his trademark smile and looks with his trademark look, which is of course awesome on its own. But it is Joseph Gordon-Levitt who shines. He is absolutely brilliant; he delivers fantastic performance with ease and enjoyment. He manages to eclipse the performance of Bruce Willis, and that says a lot.
This movie is a breath of fresh air after the immense mediocrity of recent showings. It plays with you, it challenges, it inspires. There are several action movies to follow this year, but they better learn from Looper as how things should be done. Totally brilliant, easily one of the best movies this year. True masterpiece. Must see.