in Review


I probably should be writing about The Master or doing homework, but I am going to pass the buck to Colin and procrastinate, respectively, in favor of writing about Looper, because it sounds more fun. I kind of touched on this on the time travel movies episode of T3, but I think time travel is both a concept that is really appealing to us as people, and really difficult to make work in a story. We’re all mortal, we all have regrets and dreams, it’s easy to see why the idea of moving through time and space, cheating out on the most fundamental dimension of life, keeps coming back. But in practice, most time travel stories leave me frustrated by all the strange logical issues that putting this idea in practice creates. Fortunately, Rian Johnson is a savvy enough filmmaker that he mostly sidesteps these issues by making Looper a story about people, rather than the science fiction.

If you’ve seen the trailers for this movie, you really only know a part of the story: Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in Bruce Willis makeup) is a special kind of assassin living in a somewhat dystopian city in the future. In the future’s future, time travel has been invented and outlawed. It’s nearly impossible to get rid of a body. So future crime organizations use time machines to send people they need killed back in time, where “loopers,” people like Joe, make the kill and dispose of the body. It’s a sweet gig, except someday the person a looper kills will be his future self, meaning both his job is over and he’s only got thirty years left. When future Joe (Bruce Willis) is sent back, he escapes his younger self, setting of a desperate chase, as young Joe has to kill himself or risk being jacked up by his boss and coworkers.

Are you getting confused yet? Don’t worry, it makes more sense when you see it happen. The time travel logic never makes sense at all, especially with the Paul Dano character, but there’s a scene where Bruce Willis yells, “it doesn’t matter how time travel works,” and I think that’s good advice. What’s interesting is that this action movie set up changes about halfway through into a much more meditative film, with the introduction of Emily Blunt’s character and her son. None of it’s in any of the marketing, so I won’t write any more on the plot, but I will say I think Johnson did a pretty great job about turning time travel into a device for introspection; for analyzing motivations and consequences.

It’s been a good year for JGL and the good times keep on rolling as he turns in a solid performance and great Bruce Willis accent, saddled only by how slightly strange his young Bruce Willis makeup looks the whole movie. I think it’s the eyebrows. Speaking of Bruce Willis, he’s fine. He’s honestly not given much to do outside of his familiar badass persona, but it’s safe to say his is a most bad ass. Pierce Gagnon, playing Cid, the son of Emily Blunt’s character Sara, does a pretty great job, this kid might have a future. Maybe not, I’m not really sure how these things go. Where’s Abigail Breslin, does she still act?

Hey, it’s 2012, we don’t get a lot of smart sci fi anymore, it’s basically just Duncan Jones movies. On that scale, I’d say Looper is somewhere between Moon and Source Code – a movie with some solid action, a great cast and a fun premise that ultimately runs out of steam a little bit before it should. It’s plenty of fun and totally worth your time, unless you’re the type who ask too many questions about the mechanics of movies like this, in which case, be prepared for a swift kick in the balls from Bruce Willis. Yeah, I wouldn’t like that either.