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House of cards
on 8 January 2014
Looper is a rather odd, uneven movie. It is as if the writer/director had a reasonable idea for a time travel tale, and a half formed idea for a telekinesis film, and decided to shove them together.
The basic concept is that Joe, played by Joseph Gordon Leavitt has been recruited by a mafia boss sent backwards in time by 30 years from 2074 to carry out hits on undesirables, also sent back from the future, where it is seemingly impossible to dispose of the bodies. Eventually, as time travel itself is illegal, the hit-men are required to dispose of their older selves, receiving a pay off in the process which will allow them to live in comfort for the next 30 years. The second element of the story is hinted at by the fact that a proportion of the population is mildly telekinetic.
Joe's troubles begin when he fails to kill his older self, played by Bruce Willis.
The movie falls into three acts, firstly establishing the scenario of young Joe's life, secondly, rapidly telling the thirty year story of how he becomes Bruce Willis, and thirdly the event's after Old Joe's return, which also involve single mother, Emily Blunt, and her young son.
The 2044 in which the film is set is not one in which there has been a great deal of progress, other than the invention of levitating motorbikes. If anything it has a retro-feel reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
It is all well played and Gordon-Leavitt and Willis are convincing in establishing younger and older selves with similar mannerisms. It is also, while running, reasonably intriguing, with a genuine sense of uncertainty about the outcome, other than a vague feeling that it isn't going to end well (although Willis's actions mean that it is difficult, within Hollywood movie conventions, to believe that he will be allowed to win out in the end).
It is however, as I said uneven. The lumpiness of the cobbling together of the two elements is added to by the addition of gratuitous scenes which do little to advance the plot -Blunt scarcely credibly inviting young Joe into her bed, and Bruce Willis getting a scene where he fights his way out of a tight corner with a sub-machine gun in each hand, included it seems because that's what Bruce Willis does.
The problem with this film is that with a moment's consideration at the end, the whole edifice falls apart, and the problems can be summed up in to sentences.
1. There is absolutely no need for the main villain to be telekinetic.
2. As soon as the climactic events of the final scene have occurred, it is impossible for them to have occurred.
So, Looper is OK. As a DVD to watch if you've got nothing else to do, it's fine, but it's nothing special.