Not another time travel movie

4 10 2012

By Kleinz 57

The United States in 2044 isn’t all that different from 2012, at least if you ask director Rian Johnson. Johnson’s new sci-film actioner Looper clearly learned a few lessons from Ridley Scott’s mistakes in Blade Runner, which boldly predicted America would look something like this in seven years. Yeah maybe Los Angeles, pal. Kansas City on the other hand resembles nothing like an urban toilet tank, which is great since we’ll be spending two hours hanging around bountiful wheat plains and the wet dreams of steampunk architect weirdos. Granted, future KC is also overrun with gangsters and more toothless hobos than ever so THANKS A LOT FUTURE-OBAMA.

Yet despite all this talk of the future, Looper is not a time travel movie. It’s more of a movie that uses time travel (why yes, I do enjoy semantics) although its execution is pretty simple with all the technical crap. Here’s a spoiler-free breakdown:

  • In 2074, time travel is discovered, quickly outlawed, and then used exclusively in underground circles by mobsters looking to dispose of targets in a clean, theoretically impossible manner.
  • Targets are sent back in time, from the year 2074 to 2044, to be killed by ‘loopers.’
  • The ‘loop’ in looper comes from the mob’s clean, theoretically impossible desire to wrap their murders up nicely with no loose ends. Each looper eventually has his own future self sent back to him for assassination, effectively closing one’s loop.
  • This results in a looper’s timeline forever… looping back to the past only to get killed by their younger, naiver selves in an endless cycle of self-destruction. It’s like the dessert line at a Boston Market — just, forever.

That’s all you really need to know, but if none of that makes sense, take my word that this concerns time travel a little more than The Shining deals with room service.

As you might have guessed, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face is fantastic as Bruce Willis. Joe is, yes, a ‘looper,’ but when it’s time to close his own loop, something goes horribly awry, and his older self (Bruce Willis) escapes. Marty McFly be damned, “letting your loop run,” as the film puts it, is not a good thing. What ensues is part revenge thriller, part bodyguard meditation. Jeff Daniels steals several scenes as 2044’s resident crime kingpin, and Emily Blunt can fake the shit out of a Southern accent, however most surprising of all is that Looper’s initial ‘men on the run’ premise morphs into something else entirely. And the trailers haven’t spoiled any of it, turning what would still likely be a holy shit moment into a HOLY SHIT moment.

There are (few) downsides. Looper’s second act sags like the skin under Bruce Willis’ tired eye lids. And of course, when a central premise not so subtly pits one man against himself, characters shouting out moral quandaries is probably a given. But ever since his 2005 debut with Brick, Rian Johnson’s films have shown a flair for awesome world-building and the conservative skill set to know which cards to play and when. Looper is no exception as a refreshing piece of filmmaking. Though for the life of me, I can’t figure out which comic book it’s based on.




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