Film Review: Looper

A few years back (or many years in the future, rather) something horrible happened and I had to go back in time to fix it, and my past self was being really antagonistic about it because she wanted to live her own life.  What a selfish brat.  Ok, not really, but that would make a great story…

As Joseph Gordon-Levitt will tell us, time travel has yet to be invented, but in the future it will be.  Its use is outlawed (thank goodness), but of course like many banned things it still happens.  Which is where Joe comes in.  As a hired assassin of sorts, he takes out the men that the mob of the future want to disappear, and what better way of disposing of the bodies than in a time in which they don’t exist?  But time travel is a tricky thing, and things are bound to go wrong.

The other thing about time travel is that it has to be done perfect enough to not throw audiences for a loop.  For example: If I went back in time and kept my past self from giddily including that phrase that plays off the title, would I need to go back in time and do this?  Technically it never happened.  My boyfriend and I had a similar argument as it pertained to Looper, so just don’t think about it.  And if you’re one of those people who has to poke holes then just shut your face!  For what it’s worth, Looper does a really respectable job with its use of time travel, even playing with the idea in some really inspired and/or disturbing ways that will draw your mouth agape.

This sci-fi story and the performances from Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as they play off each other as the same man will push you to decide whose motivation is worth more in the end, and it is interesting to see how present day Joe gets to where he is as his future self considering how different they seem when next to each other.  The makeup effects aiding in the comparable facial features do get slightly distracting at times, but Gordon-Levitt has no trouble acting through it, making up for any short falls.  (It really does look great; there’s just something about a strong, square jaw that always looks like it is one step away from that goonish, Marv from Sin City look to me, and took me out of the moment every now and again).

With the seconds of makeup issues aside, everything about this film is beautiful as those involved play with frame rate, lighting, design and all those elements that make for a truly breathtaking piece of cinema that doesn’t completely overcome a decision that seems like a once-off early on, but then comes back to haunt the story in the long run.  To avoid spoilers I’ll leave out the details, and I’ll just say that the time travel element was enough for the depiction of the future.  Nothing more was needed, and I’m sad to say that its use becomes laughable for the most part.  It doesn’t ruin the film for me, but it is regrettable that the choice wasn’t made to go a different route because it does knock my final grade down slightly.  But just slightly.

Even with these minor flaws, Looper is a great addition into the sci-fi world that does everything right with the main element of time travel.  So if there was any doubt in your mind about seeing it, go back a few seconds and smack your past self in the face.  Then go hand in hand with your future self and see the film.

Final Grade:  B+    

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