I was put off seeing this film when I found out it was a time-travel picture (not my favorite subject) but the local reviews were good. And there was nothing else on that Susan and I fancied. On the whole, we were glad we went.
The background to the story is as follows: at some time in the future, time travel is invented. For certain reasons the film skips over, at that time it is difficult to kill someone and hide the body. So the mob’s victims are sent back 30 years in time. On arrival they are shot and incinerated. The people doing the shooting and disposal are called Loopers, and they receive good money for doing the job. However, every so often the person they shoot is themselves. (‘Closing the loop.’) This means they know that they will die 30 years in the future. They get extra payment, and retire from the job to enjoy their ill gotten gains. For exactly 30 years. Sometimes the Looper screws up when it comes to closing the loop and lots of time related trouble ensues. To keep an eye on things, the mob send one of their number back in time to run the operation.
The central story involves a Looper called Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt ) who does not close the loop, allowing his older self (Old Joe – Bruce Willis) to go free. The mob are after Joe and Old Joe. Joe is after Old Joe. And in the background is the knowledge that, in the future, an individual called the Rainmaker will single handedly take over the mob. So, there’s a hunt within a hunt within a mystery: who is the Rainmaker? And there’s some love interest when the trail leads to a farm run by Sara (Emily Blunt), where she and her son are living in relative peace.
According to IMDB, the film had financial woes which meant they could not shoot certain scenes that were supposed to be in Paris, but ended up in Shanghai because the local distributor funded that part. And there are one or two rough edges which suggest this was a wee bit of a rush job. (For details, see the IMDB entry under ‘Did You Know? – Goofs.’) For example, IMDB observes: “The little boy in some shots has a tooth missing that isn’t missing in other shots.” and “The young Joe is right-handed, the older one played by Bruce Willis, is left-handed.”
As another example of less than stellar work, the makeup people worked at bringing Joe and Old Joe closer together (we get to see Joe aging) and do a reasonable job apart from the ears. One has lobes, one doesn’t. Ooops. Never mind.
These slips do not detract too much from what is, in essence, a bloody action movie. It’s fast and furious and generally well acted. (On a few occasions I thought Mr Willis might have lost interest, but he does the job. I liked Gordon-Levitt’s performance and expect to see more of him. Emily Blunt is good.) There are a couple of nice twists in the plot, and you will not be bored because there are several puzzles. The cinematography is ok but did not stand out; a consequence of trying to do a futuristic movie with budget troubles. The reviews here said that all the time travel inconsistencies had been worked out. That is rubbish. But don’t think too deeply behind the action and you will enjoy yourself.