[SPOILER ALERT – It’s excellent. Seriously, though, if you are adverse any advance hints of plot or character in Looper, consider this review peppered with very mild spoilers that make any sort of considered review even possible in this case.]
Empiricist founding father John Locke proposed a curious scenario with of all things, his socks. It goes something like this. If you had a hole in your sock and had to patch it over, you’d probably call it the same sock, more or less. But if you developed another hole, then another, to the point where all the original material of that sock was replaced, would it still be the same sock? Rian Johnson’s fantastic time travel film asks the question, after 30 years of life (and life lessons) are you still you? Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis are playing Joe, an assassin who kills for the mafia of 2070, even if the present is 2044. Time travel may have been invented somewhere between that span of years, but it was immediately outlawed and then equally immediately co-opted by the mafia as a unique way to dispose of people that they want gone. Send them back to 2044 and have a ‘Looper,’ a member of Joe’s profession, kill and burn the remains effectively destroying the evidence decades before anyone will need to look for it. The catch is that Loopers eventually have to be retired themselves, and are generally retired by themselves, unbeknown by themselves until they see themselves. Keep up with me now, we’re in the in the tall cane. Shockingly, these young assassins generally have a big night on the town after they retire themselves. But, like Logan’s Run or Minority Report, we all apt run in the end when given enough wind of what’s coming. So, when Young-Joe botches the murder Old-Joe, he has a bit of a conundrum. Actually, he has a full blown existential crisis, complicated by the fact that Old-Joe might just be Locke’s over-patched socks. That is to say, is Young-Joe really stepping on his own toes by telling Old-Joe to piss off? Or, going a step further, hunting him down for his mafia masters? From the other side of the equation, consider if you at fifty met yourself at twenty, wouldn’t you want to punch that young twerp in the face?