Movie Review: Looper

Joe and Joe having a cup o'Joe

After months of avoiding the movie theater and dealing with my butter flavoring withdrawls, I went back to get my fix.  Although I originally had no interest in seeing Looper, I felt almost worn down by all the positive press and general good reviews that I began to feel compelled to see this film.  After having finally seen it, I can say that I am pleased that I did… although I wouldn’t call this an out and out masterpiece of a movie, it has it’s flaws, but it is a well constructed story with some wonderfully twisted moments that do a great job of playing with the notion of time travel.

Looper tells the story of both the future and one man’s tale within this world.  In the future, 2074 to be exact, time travel exists but is illegal.  The mob uses this technology to send people they want whacked back thirty years to 2044 where time travel doesn’t exist yet and can effectively be killed and disposed of without any trace.  In order to facilitate this structure the mob uses individuals know as “loopers” who will murder those that come from the future and dispose of their bodies in exchange for silver until they must close their own loop and kill their thirty year older self, effectively ridding all evidence.  Once the looper kills his future self, he gets a big pay day in gold and can enjoy the next thirty years with the knowledge of when and how they will die.

The specific looper in question is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt {2044 Joe} and Bruce Willis {2074 Joe}).  Joe does his job… Joe is happy with his job… Joe does not wish to ruin a good thing… Joe must eventually deal with killing himself, and all he wants to do in the next thirty years is to move to France, get high (apparently everyone gets loaded by dripping some drug into their eyes), party, and make some more money killing people.  Older Joe isn’t interested in dying quite yet… he has some business to attend to in the past.

There are a few issues I have with this movie right off the bat.  For starters, time travel is a dicey subject and is rarely handled well in film.  Although I am a big fan of science fiction, time travel has been used in so many different ways to so many different ends that it almost feels like a cheap plot device with little or no consequences.  That said, I actually liked how Looper dealt with the subject.  One scene in particular involving Paul Dano’s character, Seth, and his older self, is an outstanding and original use of the concept of time.  Another scene, the only one we actually see of the future time machine, is so reminiscent of 12 Monkeys that I can’t help but imagine it was a straight homage… especially since it has Bruce Willis stepping into it and being sent back.

Another issue which did become somewhat distracting at times is the make up and prostheses used on Joseph Gordon-Levitt to make him look more like a young Bruce Willis.  Two problems here… the first, his eyebrows looked ridiculous… the second, we know exactly what Bruce Willis looked like thirty years ago, and it is nothing like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Even in a scene where they are sitting across from each other (see the pic above), the differences are far too apparent for us to buy into the idea that these are the same people.  Sure the nose, ears, and eye color work… but the lips and chin are way off.  Suspension of disbelief must be employed in a big way.  I will give kudos however for having Gordon-Levitt check his hairline and give a slight “tsk”.  I will also give kudos to a series of scenes showing the passage of thirty years in Joe’s life.

Finally, my biggest gripe is with the second half of the film.  The first half is outstanding… the last half begins to feel like Witness and/or the second season of The Walking Dead… an action movie that takes a breather on a farm and hangs out there for a few beats too many.  I won’t get into any spoilers here… but the only good aspect of the latter half is the arrival of Emily Blunt… always a welcome presence.

I can’t say that I was bowled over by Looper… but I enjoyed it a great deal.  Although I have my gripes with a few aspects and felt like the last half could have been better, I still had a great time watching this film.  I had not seen director Rian Johnson’s previous films, Brick being prime among them… but I have seen his episodes of Breaking Bad, most notably Fly, a questionable episode, yet an episode with a very particular style which I could see evident in Looper.

If you are a fan of science fiction and action and don’t mind a bit of bloody violence Looper would be a great choice for a movie night.  If you are at all sensitive to violence, especially when it involves children and Jeff Daniels with a beard, you may want to skip this one.  I was happy that I chose not to skip this… fortunately future Mr. Blahg came back from the future in his DeLorean and told me to see it.

Ten year old me would be aghast by forty year old me,
Cornelius J. Blahg 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *