YOUR CALL on Looper, the time travel thriller from writer/director Rian Johnson. While this film delivers a sufficiently interesting story in its genre, I ultimately found it unsatisfying.
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Looper is set in a dystopian 2044 (I would give anything to watch a movie set in a future that’s NOT dystopian), where organized crime runs the show and you run into the occasional telekinetic with relatively limited abilities. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works as a hitman for the mob. In reality, he works for the 2074 mob, who send back targets for hits, thus leaving no trace of the crime. Every hitman knows that one day the hit will be on his future self once he’s outlived his usefulness, one of the drawbacks of the job.
When future Joe (Bruce Willis) arrives for extermination, he escapes and Joe (that’s present Joe) finds himself on the run from his 2044 boss (Jeff Daniels). Eventually, the two Joes confront one another, and future Joe tells current Joe that some insane mob boss in the future is killing all the hitmen one by one. We also learn that they’ve killed future Joe’s wife, and that future Joe has alternate sets of memories depending on what present Joe does next.
If all of that sounds like a bit much, I assure you it flows relatively smoothly in the time travel narrative. The problem here isn’t the scifi, it’s the rather easy way Looper lapses into a basic action suspense flick. The most interesting scenes in the picture had Willis and Gordon-Levitt sizing each other up, both being the same guy yet with different goals. But Looper quickly separates the pair, and the last hour or so of the picture offers more of a mano a mano standoff than a scifi brain teaser.
Gordon-Levitt underwent some well publicized prosthetics to make him look like young Bruce Willis. In reality, I think he looks more like young Robert DeNiro, but he nevertheless does a good job playing against type as a hardened criminal. Willis brings his usual level of intensity to films like these. Emily Blunt doesn’t distinguish as a woman living off the grid who comes to Gordon-Levitt’s aid. Raising Hope’s Garret Dillahunt is surprisingly good as a reservedly menacing member of Daniels’ hitsquad who’s looking for both Joes to knock them off.
Young Bruce Willis or Young Robert DeNiro?: Gordon-Levitt in Looper.
Looper only glancingly touches upon the potentially rich issues of how you would handle meeting your future self, a side-bar of the film’s decision to split up its leads. While this serves the action story, it undercuts the juicier scifi portion of the story. For my part, if I ever meet my future self, I will ask him/me if they EVER make a time travel movie without eventually falling back on the old cliche of “it turns out he caused the whole thing himself by going back in time.” Like every other time travel movie ever made, Looper eventually offers up a version of this same theme as it’s quasi-surprise ending, only anyone who’s ever seen a time travel movie wasn’t surprised.
Looper qualifies as an enjoyable enough picture, but one that fell far short of its potential. As such, I was disappointed in the film and leave it to you whether to see it.
ALSO ON DVD:
SKIP Premium Rush, a silly throwaway chase movie from David Koepp. Remember when Ryan Gosling was in everything and then he was in Drive, a poorly named action flick which turned out to be great. Yeah, this ain’t that. Joseph Gordon-Levitt may be in everything right now, but he shouldn’t have been in this poorly named mindless hipster action fantasy about the heroic world of bike messengers, although Michael Shannon does turn in a nice performance as the frantic dirty cop chasing him down.