The world of Looper is set in the future, and unlike other sci-fi films, the world is not clean or pretty, but dirty and violent: with mobs, poverty, and drugs. Mobs use time-travelling technology to complete contractual murders. I like this dark vision of the future because I think other films tend to think that technology will change humanity somehow. Looper, on the other hand, shows that humanity constantly struggles with evil.
The film focuses in particular on the evils of violence and how violence perpetuates itself through vengeance. The film handles this theme well and treats violence carefully for the most part. It accomplishes this delicate matter by following both timelines of Joseph Simmons (present and future Joseph – played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis). We see both sides of the pursuit, and we understand the motives of both Josephs.
What we see in the two Josephs is a tragic criminal lifestyle. However, both experience romantic love that is able to pull them out of their spiraling lifestyle. Although the use of romantic love for rescue is clichéd, it is genuine. For me, I sympathized with the characters and understood why they were willing to kill to accomplish their goals.
Most importantly though, the film does not allow the viewer sympathize with the violence that occurs. The violence is rough and gritty and the film does not shy away from it. The film confronts the viewer with the consequences of violence, and provokes a natural feeling of disgust and shame. There is only one point in the film where the violence goes too far, almost to the point of laughable ridiculousness, but for the most part the film uses violence effectively.
When you see this film, watch how the film approaches violence and pay attention to its solution. Though the movie is a little flawed, I believe it is one of those rare films that do not casually use violence as a tool for entertainment. Rather, it sees violence as it is: disgusting, shameful, and gritty. For this critical vision of violence, I enjoyed this film.
- Ryan Hagerman