Every once in awhile, one will encounter a tale that challenges the moral codes we live with every day.
This time it was Looper, the third film directed by Rian Johnson.
Johnson is no stranger to noir nor actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who the director handled in the 2005 film, Brick.
What was new to them here (pun intended) was a fierce future where murders take place in broad daylight, telekinesis stirs in the populace and crime syndicates resort to time travel to be rid of their blights.
Levitt plays a looper named Joe, one of many who carry out murders for organized crime in the year 2044.
Mobs from 2074 send individuals back to the young Joe’s time to have them killed and disposed of discreetly for a generous sum of silver.
It is chilling to have this depicted in what was supposed to be American born and fed Kansas.
Surrounded by cornfields, air unfettered by smog and signs of dystopia, Joe kills victim after victim like clockwork with a pocket watch in hand.
Much of this is explained in concise voiceovers by Joe, mercifully sparing the audience of endless exposition.
The movie favors a strong storytelling speed, not letting many scenes breathe.
But this doesn’t matter, as the story that makes its own air with bullets and quick banters about the choices made from greed and love.
Here, those supposed opposites can be one in the same.
When a looper is let go of his services, the thirty-year-older version of himself is sent back to be killed by his younger self.
That is a looper’s final job, as marked by a vest of gold on the victim’s body.
When young Joe fails his last mission due to the quick wit of old Joe, chaos ensues as young Joe is pursued by both his older self and the crime syndicate.
Bruce Willis is not exactly an actor that blends in with the rest of Hollywood.
But, his distinct mark works here as old Joe who finds love late in life, takes it for granted so little, that he will do anything to keep it alive.
This is when morals come in and the time travel keeps more out. This is the concept that makes Looper less “Great Scott!” and more “All is fair in love and war.”
There is less action than what is advertised by the Tinseltown execs, but the messages here are too deep in the soul of a violent society to be covered by 90-second trailer blurbs or 600 words.
This becomes the most evident when young Joe meets the Southern accented Sara, played with an essential balance between rough and run down by Emily Blunt.
The British beauty is no stranger to versatility, so it was little stretch to have her cock a shotgun in one scene and soulfully levitate a lighter in another.
When she finds out that her son, Cid, may be the unbeknownst catalyst for the conflict between young and old Joe, she must trust the former to protect her family.
If it sounds like a film torn between different thematic worlds, then that would be putting it too simply.
It’s more woven. As few techniques are left in the director’s chair amidst the slow motion, time jumps, quick talks and even faster cuts.
It tells a journey of men stuck deciding between the cleansing touch of love and the moral sacrifices we may need to make to keep it.