Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Review: Looper (Spoiler-Free. I think.)

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Looper poster

Looper (Spoiler-free. I'm pretty sure it's spoiler-free. Look, do you want to know about the film, or not?)
118 mins / Dir. Rian Johnson

If a movie about time-travel, and assassins, and having to take out your future-self doesn't get you going then... look, Emily Blunt getting all attitudey with a shotgun. This alone has to be worth the price of admission.

I'll keep this short, as I really can't go too deep without giving spoilers. And to paraphrase Holly, there's no such thing as small when you're talking about causality...

The Plot: Working for an organisation thirty years in the future, Joe is a hired assassin, anonymously disposing of people where and when the bodies can't be found. It's not unusual for these Loopers to have to eventually kill their future selves, as a means of insurance for all concerned, but when future-Joe arrives for termination one day, he's had thirty years to think about it, and he's got other plans...

The Good: If you like time-travel movies, you'll be right at home. Looper doesn't make you work like Primer does, but it doesn't hold your hand for the entire movie, either. The sets alternate between Kansas City and the outlying farmland. Because the main story is set in 2044 (with Joe's employer being in 2074), the future-tech on display is fairly underplayed, with most of the surroundings only being slightly different. Well, apart from the hoverbikes, of course. And the other obvious plus-point is that Kansas farmland looks pretty much the same in 2044 as it does now: budget-win.

A lot has been written about Joseph Gordon-Levitt's make-up job which transforms him into a young Bruce Willis. While they got the nose right, the real work is done by Joseph adopting Bruce's mannerisms in the scenes they share. Bruce pretty much turns up and plays Bruce, you know how he is. On the subject of makeup, there are other nice touches whereby the younger and older versions acquire the same scars throughout the movie. They're not dwelled on, they're just there for those of you paying attention to the details because the plot's not as complicated as some might have you believe.

My favourite scene features Joe and Joe in a diner, with Bruce yelling at his younger self to get him to understand that the how-and-why of the time-travel isn't important; it's what's happening now that is. It's not entirely subtle, but it's basically a guide for watching the film.

Looper is a great time-travel movie, although you shouldn't need to see it twice to get everything that's going on.

The Bad: In places, but by no means all of the time, Looper tries to be too clever for its own good, yet in others it's a tad too simplistic. In order to create tension and still have a flexible plot, a lot of groundwork is laid with alternate-timelines here, and rippling-changes-throughout-the-years there. It's a device which allows characters to not implode with memory-loops, and get away with creating situations that would ordinarily be a paradox. But, some events then come into play which discard the theories that have been layed down, and shouldn't work by the film's own rules. I may expand on this in a later review, if someone doesn't beat me to it.

Oh, and that thing that happens should come as no surprise at all if you've been paying attention. And I'm probably saying too much by even posting that.

The Ugly: There is no ugly. Nothing's ugly when you've got Emily Blunt with a shotgun.


I can't quite give it the full-marks it's getting from elsewhere, but it'll be worth more watches, for sure.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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