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October 3, 2012

Time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but three years from now it will have been, this is an important thing to remember when watching Looper. It’s the year 2044, the present, and time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but 30 years into the future it has been then immediately banned giving the Mob the only group with access to it. They use it to send criminals whose existence they want erased back to the present to be killed by Loopers. Joe, a young James Dean like “hipster” with affection for the 20th century per his fashion and Miata, is a Looper well-known for being good at his job. However, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Leviett) soon learns that someone in the future, The Rainmaker, is closing all the loops by sending all Loopers that are still alive in the future back the past to be killed. When Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) escapes his clutches, Joe is determined to kill him in order live his own future and avoid death at the hands of his boss.

Crazy right? And that’s just part of what actually goes down in Looper. The second half of the film presents a new focus featuring a tough as nails farm girl named Sara (Emily Blunt) and by the last half of the film, it nose dives into a more massive wave of story arc featuring parapsychological occurrences. Perhaps this is why I didn’t “love” Looper the way most movie goers did and undoubtedly will. I’m going to spoil a tiny part of Looper so forgive me: Older Joe’s reason for escaping his death is so that he can save his wife who gets killed because of him. He’s determined to hold on to her memory and fight for her, despite his younger self doing everything in his power to make him forget the life that his older self has already led. Now even that doesn’t spoil the movie, because there so much more going on, almost too much.

Don’t get me wrong, Looper is clever. Time travel has been explored in cinema time and again, arguably done best by Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future. Looper is notable, however, because of its unique narrative that transports audiences back and forth through time, creating an intricate adventure and allowing us to see events over again from a new perspective. It’s not a new device, as Sidney Lumet’s fantastic film Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead will show, but it’s still a cool way to watch a story unfold. Though, writer and director Riann Johnson ultimately just crams too much into Looper while never really fleshing out what it starts with. Is the story consistent and cohesive? Sure, and Looper is good because of it, yet I felt it could have been a much better film had they focused on the relationships of characters in both the past and present and Joe’s present relationships with an unattached stripper instead of leaving much of the information from the first half waving in the air.

Johnson’s vision of the future is a unique and sensible one; life is far from images of a peachy, sleek and sterile future. It’s only 30 years from now after America’s economic collapse, so it looks almost post-apocalyptic. Everything is run down, there’s social destitution, the streets are filled with vagrants who appear to be the middle class, and crime in the streets is a common way to protect and exact vengeance against petty thieves. Luxuries are rare and we only see the life of a high roller through Joe and his daily routine of waking up, doing eye drops of heroin, going to work, collecting his money, doing heroine, going to a club and doing more heroine. Johnson also does a great job of making his props and special effects tangible in order to give the future world realism, but when he decides to use CGI the affects are sloppy and amateur looking, thankfully these moments are few and far between not denoting too much from the action.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s prosthetic Bruce Willis face is an admirable attempt to make you believe that he could age to look like Bruce, but it’s a distracting and unflattering element making Levitt look more like a primate than Willis. Nevertheless, Levitt is great as usual taking his ape-like face and keeping a look of determination and desperation on it. The performances from the entire cast is great, but it’s Johnson’s fast paced story and impressive filming and narrative that makes Looper as good as it is. Although Johnson seems to lose his personal touch during the film, instead heavily utilizing JJ Abrams’ style Looper is overall an enjoyable cinematic experience. Sure, I believe it could have been better and I don’t consider it Johnson’s or any of the cast’s “best” film, but it’s still refreshing and impressive.

SEE IT. It’s worth the watch and features one of the coolest shots ever involving stairs and flying objects.

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