Looper stands in a long history of thought-provoking sci-fi drama. Instead of finding a crutch in trendy CGI
or prop-based visual effects, Looper uses a rather minimal visual background (most of the action in the movie occurs on a farm or in dingy city streets) to achieve a classical sci-fi motive: getting people to question their everyday moral assumptions. “Loopers” are those who sell their future lives to the mob, in exchange for a lucrative pay-off in the present. It is, in a certain sense, an ace deal. The mob, illegally using time travel, send back “hits” to the loopers, living in the past. The loopers act as assassins on the receiving end of time-traveling victims, eliminating the victims and disposing of the bodies, building a perfect future for the mob one body at a time. However, the catch is that their last victim before retirement is their future selves – closing “the loop.” They are then given a golden parachute and sent on their way to an inevitable doom.
Apart from all of the moral questions that are involved, it leaves the loopers in a state of a kind-of despair. The point of Looper, like any good sci-fi, is not precisely the morality of the technology itself, but what it tells us about morality and human beings. There’s very little exploration of what time travel should be like or do, and much more about what it means to love and to sacrifice. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the counter-part to Bruce Willis. One – the young, up-start assassin unconcerned about what tomorrow might bring. He is the one who is obligated by his contract to close his own “loop.” The other – a hardened killer who regrets years of wasted opportunities and looks to get back the only thing that mattered to him. He struggles with his own freedom and his feelings of helplessness in the face of a seemingly inevitable future that he strives to overcome.
While it may seem that a time travel movie like this should lead us to determinism and fatalism – the idea that all is inevitable and unavoidable – Looper instead endorses the idea that fatalism is, underneath it all, just another free choice. I’m not personally committed to the moral choice made at the end of the movie, but I certainly think that the ride toward that end is believable, human, and worthwhile.
My Rating: 8 out of 10.