It’s unofficially official: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of Hollywood’s new “it” men. Having come a very long way from the days when he tried to kiss Topher Grace in that show about the '70s (I forget what it was called), JGL has been quietly building up quite the resume of blockbuster appearances lately. From “Inception” to “The Dark Knight Rises,” the kid whose career began to take off on that '90s NBC sitcom (“3rd Rock from The Sun”) has made his impact felt on every one of the movies he’s been in over the past few years. But in his latest feature, “Looper,” Levitt shines so bright that he’ll probably be hanging off of some rappers neck at the next BET Hip-Hop Awards.
While “Looper” can be viewed as an action-packed thrill ride of a movie, you cannot overlook just how beautifully writer/director Rian Johnson merged two themes that tend to function as the single basis of a movie: organized crime and time travel. Based in the year 2044, the movie takes place in a day and age where synthetic drugs are taken through the eye, certain percentages of the population have telekinetic abilities and from the looks of things on the streets, the Republicans are once again in office.
The film follows a mob hitman named Joe (played by Levitt) whose everyday life consists of killing, partying with fellow hitmen, getting high on eye drops, wooing a prostitute and learning French. His employer, Abe (Jeff Daniels) is a mob boss from the year 2074 where time travel is possible, but very illegal. Due to the fact that it’s technically impossible for people to just up and “disappear” in 2074, Abe is sent back 30 years to employ loopers like Joe to be at a specific place and time. The job is to receive, terminate and dispose of marks sent back by future mob bosses. You go to your location, wait for the clock to hit the designated time and as soon as your mark appears, you blow him away. I know it sounds like I just described Kim Kardashian’s routine for finding a celebrity boyfriend, but that’s just coincidence. Loopers are rewarded handsomely for their work. Each of the marks they murk have bars of silver strapped to their back for the wolves to eat.
But there is a catch to having such a job – every looper has to off their future self in the present. See, should a looper decide to call it quits, his next mark is himself from the future, but, instead of silver, you’re given a back strapped with bars of gold. You then have 30 years to enjoy life because once that time has come and gone, you’ll be gagged and bound for a trip back in time to have your fate sealed by your own self.
But this fate is far from Joe’s mind. He’s enjoying a stress-free life with dreams of seeing France. But his world begins caving in when he realizes that his last mark is himself (Bruce Willis), and even though his older self got the drop on him and left him a warning to get out of town, Joe is determined to do right by his boss and dead his older self no matter what. What ensues is one of the most intriguing, entertaining and visually enticing adventures you’ve seen in a while.
At a time when remakes, found footage and shows are a third of the garbage that Hollywood is churning out of its studios, “Looper” is what the game’s been needing. It’s an original idea that uses great acting, dialogue and cinematography to entertain, appreciate and ultimately make you want to make sweet tender love to Emily Blunt (or maybe that was just the effect it had on me). Enough can’t be said about the performance Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s turned in, though. While the makeup helps him look like a very much younger version of Bruce Willis, the gestures and facial expressions he incorporated into his role will have you reminiscing of a character by the name of John McClane. Dude was just absolutely phenomenal. If there was ever any doubt that JGL could carry a movie, then this will put those doubts to rest.
Not taking anything away from Bruce Willis, who played his role well, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt absolutely glowed in this movie. Could this spell the end of Bruce Willis’ career as leading man in an action movie? I don’t know, but he’s only 57 years old and my NBA sources tell me that the Knicks are interested in signing him to be their backup shooting guard, so he’ll be OK for the next 3 years. But right now, Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks poised to be that dude for the immediate future and beyond.