Looper is a superior genre film, an engrossing thriller that engages not only the senses, but our minds as well, just as good sci-fi should do.
-Randy Myers , San Jose Mercury News
If nothing else, Looper is one of the most ambitious movies you’ll see this Fall. The third feature film from up-and-coming writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), Looper might not be a complete masterpiece, but it is a very unique twist on time travel films and even the sci-fi genre as a whole.
I’ll get the plot details out of the way quickly. Here’s all you need to know: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star respectively as young and old versions of the same character, a hired assassin who kills and disposes of criminals sent back in time 30 years.
Looper is an interesting film for a couple of major reasons:
a) It treats the “science” in science fiction in an almost subtle tongue-in-cheek way. Everyone knows the concept of time travel makes no sense and is just one paradox after another. Instead of trying to explain the intricacies of how it works, Willis’s character (old Joe) sums it up for us with this quote:
I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.
The science behind the time travel really doesn’t matter, so Johnson pokes some fun at the notion of trying to explain the impossible. A gusty move that I really appreciate.
b) The second half of this film is entirely different from the first. Sony did a great job with Looper‘s marketing campaign, not revealing much of anything from the final two acts. Not spoiling too much, the first half focuses mainly on time travel elements, the young and old Joe characters and their motivations. The second half of the film takes a strange turn when it comes to the plot and starts diving deeper into weighty themes like morality, fate, how one’s actions can affect the future, the importance of parenting, among others. It almost feels like 2 separate films in one, but the two halves do work well thematically.
A very ambitious and unique tale, Looper‘s pieces may not all fit together perfectly, but it is definitely a worthwhile and interesting trip to the movies. Highly recommended.