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Movie review: Looper's true hero is its awesome script

It’s the year 2044. No, I mean, literally it’s the year 2044 right now. While writing his review of Looper, my naïve but good-intentioned past self secretly hoped that his future self (which is my current self, at the moment) would write this review from the future. Time travel wasn’t invented back in 2012, but after aliens took over Earth in 2034 because the humans tried filming the 30th edition of Roadies on Mars, they introduced all these cool things like time travel, cloning, artificial intelligence, and err… weekly anal probes. (Don’t worry, the aliens aren’t all that bad – they look more or less like Adam Sandler, and they proved to us humans that they mean well by banishing Arnab Goswami to Venus). So, here I am!

Everything’s going great in 2044, Hollywood wise – after Leonardo Di Caprio shifted base to Mars because there were no more great directors left to work with, Joseph Gordon-Levitt firmly took over as Hollywood’s biggest star. In fact, after Looper became a worldwide hit, director Rian Johnson became really famous too – and his recent gritty reboot of Robin Also Rises was both critically acclaimed and an inter-galactic hit. Of course, his success was helped when Christopher Nolan decided to give up the conventional way of making movies to start a live show where he’d inception movies into people’s minds directly.

Levitt in a still from the film. AP

As for Bruce Willis, he recently starred with his son and grandson (none of them being Ashton Kutcher) in Dying Hard Over and Over Again, aka Die Hard 31.0. So yes, that’s a yippie-ki-yay for you, fanboys: no one’s been able to dethrone Willis yet! Liam Neeson did come close in the 10s, but Taken 7, where he kidnaps himself, proved to be his undoing.

But enough on the state of affairs – let’s talk about Looper. The movie recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and saw a re-re-re-re-re-release in 14D (in which basically Bruce Willis’ hologram comes out of the screen and punches you in the face every now and then) and even all these years later, it remains one of the most genuinely futuristic, intelligent, unique and original movies of this century!

For those who missed it when it released in 2012, here’s the lowdown: Looper is set in 2044, where mafia hitmen called Loopers assassinate people sent to them from 2074. Sometimes, they are also sent their own future selves, and it’s necessary to kill them to “close your loop”, or else, because of the complexity of the space-time continuum, things could get really strange and the world could blow up in your face… or something to that effect.

Joe (Joseph-Gordonn Levitt) makes exactly the same mistake – when his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent to him to be disposed of, he lets him escape. And in the thrilling and unpredictable plot twists that follow, the world almost blows up in his face… or something to that effect.

One of the biggest reasons that Looper works so convincingly was that it presents a complex but refreshingly original idea in the simplest manner, but not in one that insults the viewer’s intelligence in any way (even though human intelligence in your time was like a quarter of what we have now, fyi).

The story does not deal so much with what would happen to the present if future Joe (Willis) stayed alive in the present, but the fact that it is really important for present Joe (Levitt) to kill him because future Joe has travelled back in time to do something horrible (I’m going to let you find out what that was). And more than the traditional science-fiction riddle, it is the moral implication of what future Joe wants to accomplish that makes the plot so gripping and terribly entertaining, which is quite a major achievement for a sci-fi film.

To use a cliché (because cliché’s have still not gone out of fashion in 2044), the film’s true hero is the script and after his awesome but largely unknown debut with 2005’s indie college noir flick, Brick, writer-director Rian Johnson proves with Looper, why he deserves to play with the big boys.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis do some of their best work in Looper, especially keeping in mind the tremendous effort the actors took to look, talk, act and behave exactly like each other’s past and future selves, respectively. But yes, as much as I fanboy-worship Levitt, I have to admit that he still can’t kick butt like Willis. And as history (aka your future) proves, no one can!

So there – I’ve laid out all past, present and (your) future evidence to convince you to watch the movie. You don’t need to be a sci-fi buff to love Looper, you just need to be a fan of great storytelling, although the sci-fi, action, comedy, suspense and horror can only help! Watch the movie right away, if possible, to get bragging rights to your friends that you saw it first – because this is all that people will be talking about for quite some time into the future.

And just in the interest of social service, here are some tips to help you have a good future: Keep the towels handy, and learn Mandarin. And oh, if you live in Mumbai, buy a few auto-rickshaws.