Movie Review: “Looper” – Time Travel Repaired

Written by Matthew da Silva October 02, 2012

Joseph-Gordon Levitt has come a long way since his portrayal as an intelligent young alien on the quirky “3rd Rock From The Sun”. With Rian Johnson’s “Looper”, he returns to the sci-fi narrative that brought him into prominence, leaving behind the curiosity and naivety of his younger self for a role that puts him in the shoes of a melancholic, jaded hit man pitted against an unrelenting Bruce Willis and a powerful crime syndicate. Playing with the often-muddled theme of time travel, Johnson never allows his clever dialogue to dwell too long on the subject or leave a gaping hole in the time travel conundrum, leaving an end result of the most intelligent (and dare I say it) best action flick to come out this year.

Change Of Time

Set in a dystopian 2044, where vagrants are in abundance, murders are commonplace, and drugs are an important part in a balanced diet, Joe’s (Joseph-Gordon Levitt) line of work is a product of the time-weathered moral code of his day. In the future, time travel will be discovered, only to fall into the hands of the all-powerful crime syndicates that reign. When these crime syndicates decide that they no longer require the services of a human being, they send them back in time, where a so-called “looper” waits for them at the other end of the time-space continuum, futuristic blunderbuss in hand, fully-loaded. The victims are strapped with valuable bars of silver, granting the looper’s their hefty pay.

Though it may seem fairly easy, there is a catch. Looper’s will one day have to be looped, sending them back in time to get killed by their past selves due to all the insider information they have on the mafia. When this occurs, they will have thirty years left to live, leaving them to live with that fateful day looming in the future, and trying to suppress that thought in anyway that they possibly can. When Joe’s loop comes back untied and without a face cover, his shock allows his older self to escape, leading him in a wild chase to his elder, and away from the powerful mob at his tail.

Within The Loop

The problem with most time travel movies is continuity. Too many plot holes arise from the general trend of adding crazy plot turns at the end of the film, leaving us laughing at the impossibility, absurdity, and predictability of the end result. While there will always be discussion over continuity in any time travel related film, “Looper” distances itself by leaps from these other flopped attempts. It never becomes overtly fascinated or flashy with time travel. In the same way that technology and fashion is presented as commonplace, time travel is presented in a deadpan way by our narrator Joe, who reveals small details that drive the plot and our own understanding of how time travel fits within society.

These details are revealed discreetly, often in passing, mid-conversation: this is a part of Joe’s life, his profession, his future, an invention that has fallen into the moral bowels of society, and an invention that allows these bowels to prosper. Presenting it as a product of the everyday, it allows the focus to lie on Joe’s pursuit of his older self, and how this pursuit is both influenced and was affected by the dystopian, mob ruled state of society in both time frames.

Think Fast

Where it’s ambitious nature at times leaves us second guessing how it could work, “Looper” never allows us to get caught up in scientific specifics, instead leaving us with some fantastic performances, an incredible Bruce Willis looking do-over on Gordon-Levitt, and a narrative that is both action packed and deeply engaged in its contemplation of society. Just don’t blink, though, as you won’t be able to loop yourself back when it’s over.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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