Movie Name: Looper
Release Date(s): September 6, 2012 (Toronto International Film Festival)/September 28, 2012
MPAA Rating: R
In 2044, loopers are agents in the past that clean up crimes in the future. When a looper’s future self is sent into the past to be killed, the looper’s contract is fulfilled, and the looper “closes the loop” to live the rest of his or her life until they are sent to the past to be executed. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is saving for his future, but when his future self (Bruce Willis) escapes him, Joe must hunt him down to close the loop and save himself from death from his boss. Unfortunately, the older Joe is hunting someone called “the Rainmaker” who he believes could be eliminated and could change his future forever.
Written, produced, and directed by Rian Johnson, Looper is a sci-fi action thriller. The relatively low-budget movie was released to positive reviews and a strong box office return. The film went on to win a lot of awards and recognition for its screenplay.
Time travel films are notoriously hard to pull off. Looper claims to be a high-concept time travel movie. While this is true for the most part, Looper seems to forget that it wants to be the thinking man’s time travel movie at points and goes for the lazy way out.
Looper is filled with plot problems that are simply wished away by “it’s time travel” (which in this situation is equivalent with “it’s magic”). I admire the basic concepts of the movie like the set-up and the idea of time really being a continuous loop that seems to never be broken…that stuff works. What doesn’t work for me is the basic “we care about time travel sometimes” aspect of the story. Bruce Willis shuts down time travel discussion in the café scene, but Looper is asking you to think about time travel. Here, parallel universes are brought up and time is just slippery…you can scar your arm and it randomly shows up on your future arm (having always been there). If that is the case, parallel universes wouldn’t exist. Willis should have never remembered his wife because it never happened (or reality completely shattered). Damaging a past version kills you? That seems counter-intuitive to the “smart” plot…either establish that parallel worlds exist or that time is linear…Looper can’t seem to decide except when it is convenient.
My second big problem with Looper is the TK thing. The movie randomly throws in people who can use telekinesis. I thought more was going to go into it, but it merely seems to be a plot device to set up “the Rainmaker” character. It doesn’t really seem to add to the plot. It is random and unnecessary. Why can’t the Rainmaker just be a bad guy with a tortured past caused by Willis or Gordon-Levitt? There doesn’t seem much need for psychic powers other than some cool visuals.
The cast cannot be faulted. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does an excellent Bruce Willis and Willis has mastered the stoic, broken man that he’s played for years since movies like The Sixth Sense. Emily Blunt is likable as Sara and Cid played by Pierce Gagnon is genuinely creepy. I wish there had been more Pual Dano and Jeff Daniels and Kid Blue (Nolan Segan) wasn’t developed enough…I figured maybe he’d be the young version of Daniels but that never happened.
Visually, the movie is smart. It was low budget and did a hybrid of naturalistic settings with futuristic objects. The movie is set in 2044 and the movie didn’t try to make the future too advanced which is smart. If you look at 1970 vs. 2000, the future is different but not extreme.
Looper was a bit of a disappointment to me in that it was so hyped. I waited a few years on seeing it and expected more from all the talk. It felt long, was a bit tedious, and I felt the script wasn’t up to the level of its acclaim. Time travel and magic are dangerous plot points because they can be used as lazy write-offs for plot loopholes. Looper seeks to “close the loop” at points but ultimately leaves some of them open.