Entertainment Magazine

Looper is Stellar Sci-fi Fare; Highly Enjoyable and Deeply Confusing

Posted on the 25 September 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper. Photo Credit:  Sony Pictures Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

The background

Here comes the plot, so pay attention: time travel exists in the future. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper; a hit man tasked with the job of offing victims of the mob who send them back from the future. Oh, time travel is controlled by the mob in the future, by the way. Apparently, it is illegal. Right, so one of these victims turns out to be Joe (Bruce Willis). Yes, the same Joe, just his older self-from the future. He fails to carry off the hit and both Joes (old and new) go on the run. Old Joe is being chased by Young Joe who is being chased by elite loopers (led by a very scary Jeff Daniels) whilst Old Joe is chasing someone who will one day become ‘the Rainmaker’ – the mastermind behind this whole fandango in the future. Geddit? No, no one else does either.

Keep calm and carry on

Critics appear to be unanimously baffled when it comes to the time-travel concept of Rian Johnson’s Looper, which opened the Toronto International Film Festival this year. As the film’s crime boss Abe, played by Jeff Daniels, says, “time-travel shit fries your brain like an egg.” Indeed, it just might. The Telegraph’s Tim Robey found the film’s looping plot riddled with holes and puzzlements: “Johnson has novel conceits stuffed right up to his elbows, but they don’t always feel organic to the story, and there’s a growing whiff of illogical balderdash to his whole plot: it’s as if the script was started by Christopher Nolan and completed in hair-pulling fits and starts by M. Night Shyamalan.”

The common consensus regarding Looper’s tricky subject matter is to accept it and get on with enjoying the film. New York Magazine noted that “getting permission to be bewildered is a gift to the audience, too. You can relax and enjoy the movie, which delivers in spite of its iffy logic.” Empire concurred, and said the film “nudges you not to ask too many questions.”  Total Film warned: “We could tell you more, but then we’d have to kill you.”

Brilliant sci-fi, intelligently made

Looper is not the first film to tackle time-travel. However, critics are already lauding favourable comparisons upon it. The Guardian noted it “runs rings around most recent sci-fi releases” and Total Film declared it “is conceptually big, bold and brave enough to stand alongside The Terminator, Back to the Future and Willis’ own 12 Monkeys.”

Empire praised the film for proving that intelligent sci-fi needn’t be a rarity. Writer/director Rian Johnson is more known for his arthouse fare and character driven quirk; credentials which breathe life into his move to sci-fi.  Empire celebrated his success in “delivering a post-economic collapse dystopia with an interesting city/country divide which harks back to the Depression and … comic-book action sequences with hover-bikes and oversized guns” but stressed that “it’s still crackling dialog and unusual characterisations which hold the interest in a genre where those qualities are too often deemed superfluous.”

Impressive performances

Gordon-Levitt may have donned a prosthetic nose to prove credible as a young Bruce Willis, but The Guardian said he needn’t have bothered: “he’s nailed the pained look of befuddlement, the mannered slouch in the walk that made Willis a star.” Empire also praised the young actor: “He also does a creditable job of not imitating the Bruce of Moonlighting or Die Hard but depicting the kind of callous, incipiently sensitive young gunman who might grow up to be the battered baldie Willis now plays.” Emily Blunt, who plays hillbilly mom and token female Sara, also earned rave reviews.  Total Film noted that Looper “allows Blunt to flourish in one of her best dramatic roles since My Summer of Love.” The film is riddled with strong performances. New York Magazine called Daniels’ Abe “the year’s most hateable bad guy.” Total Film bigged up lead star Willis: “Never mind the heavy artillery Willis flaunts in The Expendables 2; when he finally picks up some hardware in Looper, it’s one of the most thrilling face-offs since he tore up the Nakatomi Plaza.”

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