1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A smart, enjoyable time travel movie,
This review is from: Looper [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Looper is the third film from director Rian Johnson and like his previous two movies, Brick, and Brothers Bloom, this one stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt. While Johnson's past movies were low budget and pretty indie in their sensibilities Gordon-Levitt's post-Inception increased star status and the inclusion of old blockbuster hand Bruce Willis allowed for greater budget and scale here.
Set in the year 2044, Looper introduces a number of key concepts via a film noirish style voiceover by Joe (Gordon-Levitt). We're told that 30 years from that point time travel will have been invented and banned, however criminals have used it to find a way to dispose of bodies. They send their targets back in time, bound and hooded, to where a specialized assassin known as a looper, guns them down. The name looper comes from the fact that at some point each one will have to shoot their own future self (known as "closing the loop") and is retired at that point to enjoy the rest of their lives. We also find out that roughly ten percent of the population has very limited telekinetic abilities. It all goes a bit wrong for Joe when his future self (Willis) arrives unbound and with no hood and proceeds to escape setting the two at odds.
The noir elements don't end with the voiceover - despite being set in the future and wearing its scifi elements proudly, Looper has the feel of a society Humphrey Bogart would have been familiar with. Grim and grimy streets, wandering vagrants, a nightclub/brothel that's popular with the criminal set, and a depressed, dustbowl feel to the areas outside the city make for an old fashioned sort of scifi. Its also an old fashioned sort of scifi in that Looper is smart and unafraid to be smart. Unlike the recent endless parade of insanely dumb action blockbusters Looper assumes a degree of intelligence on the part of the viewer and challenges with a plot that doesn't stay static, as well as big themes like nature versus nurture, and pre-destination versus freedom of choice. The cast members are all very game with prosthetics and makeup used to make Gordon-Levitt look like Bruce Willis, and some able support from reliable folk like Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels.
If Looper falls down anywhere its that its two scifi elements don't sit as comfortably together as they could. The idea of the telekinetic minority is introduced and then forgotten for much of the movie before becoming exceptionally key in the third act where young Joe seeks to protect a woman (Emily Blunt, always good value) and her young son from his older self. Its not necessarily that the telekinetics and the time travel plots jar against each other, but they never really gel either.
That criticism aside though, Looper is a brave film by filmmakers looking to break the mould a little bit and it succeeds almost fully. It's a pleasure to watch, and provides great post-viewing chatter over a pint, as all the best movies should.