Ok, everybody is going to have a different opinion of this film because it has time travel elements to it. Fine, I get it. Time travel complicates things script-wise and most of the time people get it wrong or they just don’t even bother trying to make it work properly in their own story. But I think writer/director Rian Johnson does a fine job of it in his latest film, Looper. And I’ll tell you why.
First, the plot. In the year 2072, time travel is illegal. But large criminal organizations, like the Mob, have control of it and they use it to to get rid of someone they don’t want around anymore. So, they send that target 30 years into the past and have them killed. Joe is one of these killers. And one day, he is faced with “closing the Loop”; having to kill his future self. But his future self gets away, and the chase begins.
This is a great premise. And I love the cast; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as young Joe, Bruce Willis as future Joe, Emily blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Garrett Dillahunt. Everybody is great across the board. One of my very few complaints is that they use some prosthetics to make Gordon-Levitt look more like Wills. They give him a nose like Willis’s and that’s fine. But when you see the eyebrows, you’ll be taken aback for a moment. Ok, maybe more than that. But eventually you get used to it. Why couldn’t they have made them lighter?
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about time travel. A little. It bothers some people. One of our fellow writers here, Jackie Kashian (Hi Jackie!), also liked Looper, but referred to the time travel stuff as “dodgy”. I’d agree, but most films use of time travel is dodgy. Of course, there are some that manage to keep all the plot holes filled in and it seems to work, no matter how much you try to find a hole. And good for them. But then there are the Star Trek kinds of time travel where logic is often tossed out the window but we shrug our shoulders and don’t really care because fans of Star Trek are used to that and just enjoy the fun of the show. Ok, that’s MY attitude about it anyway.
There’s a great scene in Looper where Joe and his future self are talking in a diner and Joe asks about the time travel. His future self refuses to discuss it because they’d end up with hours of making diagrams with straws on the table. I love that. To me, digging too deep into the science of it isn’t always necessary, and what they have given us is logical enough for me.
Now, in addition to that, in this 2072 future, about ten percent of people have telekinetic abilities. But primarily all these people can do is levitate a coin – parlor trick stuff. Now you’re probably thinking, “time travel, telekinesis, a guy trying to kill his future self”, this is a lot of stuff going on. But because they don’t go too deeply into explaining the time travel, OR the telekinesis, they become simple elements to a greater story. Like forces of nature; we don’t have to spend a ton of time talking about earthquakes or tornadoes, but they can be an element in a story that helps create drama or action. And that’s how I see them used in Looper. Don’t fuss over the specifics, just listen closely to the dialog in this diner scene and anything you think you can’t explain, can be.
The action is great here, too. You’ve got various people hunting each other and the sequences are cool. And I actually give a damn about these characters. They give you a chance to really care about future Joe, even though the present Joe is a hitman and a drug user. But we see a little light under all that. And this film has a script that will bring certain things together to a really great resolution. Looper is a smart, action-filled science fiction film. Do I recommend it? Hell yes. Four kittenhands from me.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, quickly finding director Rian Johnson to be a favorite.