Monday, December 31, 2012

Movie with Abe: Looper

Directed by Rian Johnson
Released September 28, 2012 / DVD December 31, 2012

Time travel movies are always interesting. The notion of transforming one’s past by returning from the future is absolutely fascinating, and while there are some clear, agreed-upon universal facets of time travel, no two literary or cinematic conceptions are entirely alike. “Looper” takes the more pessimistic approach, assuming that, almost immediately after its invention, time travel would be used for evil and promptly outlawed. Guns for hire are sent anonymous victims to execute and dispose of since bodies are too identifiable in the future, and their work guarantees that their older selves will pay the price for their profession. This picture is a desolate, grim, and genuinely captivating outlook on one possible future and the kind of people it creates.

The most worthwhile component of “Looper” is the notion of the title characters, who are “looped” back bodies from the future, having their contracts ended by “closing their loops,” which means killing their future selves as their final job, given the next thirty years to live, knowing precisely what fate awaits them. That setup creates the opportunity for two action-centric actors to pair up for this particular story, with rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also appeared in “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Premium Rush,” and “Lincoln” this year, portraying the younger, less emotional Joe, and Bruce Willis, most recently seen in “The Expendables 2,” as his older self, desperate to modify his past to spare the life of the woman he loved.

“Looper” is the kind of dystopian film that presents only snippets of a technologically enhanced society, featuring bikes hovering in the air and a couple eye-popping devices. Instead, its focus is on the bleakness of the future, where violence runs rampant and few people have hope for a better world. Joe, in both his iterations, is a perfect fit for that universe, and watching his two selves try to reason out their differences over changing the past and affecting the future is truly intriguing. Ultimately, “Looper” heads in an unexpected direction, leaning more on its science fiction roots than anything else. Its conclusion comes about suddenly and its impact is strong, but the film as a whole doesn’t feel entirely complete. It is affirming to see “Brick” director Rian Johnson reteam with his star Gordon-Levitt and to see that, at the very least, they’re both capable of tackling interesting material and creating a compelling if not completely satisfying product.


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