Review: Looper

Tristar Pictures: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Looper"Although I don’t know much much about the study of time travel, I doubt something like that would ever come to fruition, If it did, I’d imagine people would be interested in going back in time in order to change things that would help themselves or even change the world. While that would be nice, time travel could also be very dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands, and in Looper, we get a look at how those circumstances might play out.

In 2044, time travel does not exist. However, it does exist in the future, but it’s been outlawed and is only used by those with connections to the criminal underworld. Time travel is of dire importance for these people, because it’s extremely difficult to kill people in the future. Since those are the circumstances that they’re faced with, they kidnap their targets and ship them to the present (2044) where a Looper is waiting to snuff them out on sight.

These Loopers are basically mercenaries who do these deals for a handsome financial reward. Their job is simple: They receive a time and a location, then they wait there and pull the trigger when the target arrives at the specific time. After it’s done, they dispose of the body and collect their pay. The loopers live the high life with a healthy dose of drugs, cars, women and heavy partying due to the life they chose. In order to keep the party going, the mob that hired them demands that everything is kept quiet and that they kill whoever they are asked to kill. If they don’t eliminate the target, they become the target.

That’s the hand that Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is dealt in Looper. He’s asked to eliminate a target that happens to be the future version of himself (Bruce Willis) from thirty years in the future. After he fails to get rid of himself, the mysterious man in charge from the future wants him dead and sends his men out to finish both versions of them off.

Gordon-Levitt predictably carries most of the early scenes on his own. He’s there right from the outset, and he even handles the narration duties through the duration of the film. Since, they needed he and Willis to favor one another due to the fact that they were playing different versions of the same character, they chose to alter the appearance of Gordon-Levitt’s face and they also had him use a lighter version of Willis’ voice to add more symmetry between the appearances of the two men.

The acting from those two and the cast in general is solid overall with Gordon-Levitt being the only one who had to make any significant alterations to his performance. Willis on the other hand, plays his usual “tough guy” character that we’ve seen him star as for years now. I originally expected Gordon-Levitt to follow suit and use a similar style of character, but that didn’t actually happen. His version of Joe does get his hands dirty on a few occasions, but he was there primarily for the dramatic and storytelling elements of the film, while Willis is there mainly for the action.

After the two Joes meet, I was assuming there would be a massive amount of action ahead. Up until this point, Looper has been built up extremely well and was very entertaining just by dabbling in violence and laying out how things work in this world that the loopers inhabit. I just knew I was in store for more of the same once all of the action and violence really kicked into high gear. Then much to my surprise, that action didn’t really show up like I thought it would.

All of the anticipation and tension that was being built kind of stalled at this time, and that’s when Emily Blunt’s character arrives on the scene to add another dynamic to the story. Her part of the film is very important, but it causes everything to slow down. After all of the setting up that’s done earlier, Looper essentially has to reboot here as things start to shift in another direction. You can see it coming before she shows up and in truth, the fact that they added this shift is fine and isn’t much of an issue for me at all.

The issue comes from the fact that this portion of the movie takes a very long time and eats up a good chunk of the film’s energy and tension that it had previously created. Some of that stuff does come back a little bit over time as they finally swing into some of the action that I was waiting on, but it never reaches the levels that did earlier in the movie.

Cutting down some of the scenes during Blunt’s time on screen would have helped restore what was lost, but also adding more length to some of those action scenes would have also helped. They sell the action in the trailers and the commercials, but it’s not actually treated like it’s very important in the movie itself. It’s often times too quick and they just breeze through it in multiple instances.

I was originally going to give Looper a score of three out of five, but after thinking the movie over again, I can’t do that. I thought the movie as a whole was fine, but there are a few holes that stood out to me after the fact that should have been and could have been fixed. There’s a hole near the beginning that I can forgive and overlook, but there’s another hole in particular that’s huge and damages the movie in my eyes. It’s so damaging, because it would be impossible to explain an important part of Looper if any of this could actually happen.

I’m a stickler for detail, so something like this in a movie is important to me and there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll catch it. I don’t know how director Rian Johnson could have missed though. I mean he should have seen it since he also wrote it. Maybe he noticed it, but decided to leave it alone, because he believed that no one else would?

I obviously won’t say what it is, because spoilers aren’t allowed on the reviews from The Movie Picture Show. I also won’t say it, because there will be a lot of people that won’t see this gigantic flaw and they might like this movie more without knowing that it’s there. If by chance you do notice it, it will be after you watch the entire movie. I guarantee that you will gloss over it at first and miss it completely, but you might catch it once you watch the ending and connect the dots. The ending plays a huge part in the flaw that I’m speaking of.

Despite the holes and making the Blunt storyline a bit too long, there are quite a few things that I liked in Looper. They used some of the typical elements that we’re used to seeing in movies involving time travel, and they also used some new stuff that I thought was fantastic. This kind of gave Looper it’s own identity despite using a few familiar time traveling rules and being a little bit similar in a couple of ways to a previous Bruce Willis time traveling movie (that’s also better) called 12 Monkeys.

Score: 2.5/5

Rating: R

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Bruce Willis
Emily Blunt
Jeff Daniels
Paul Dano
Noah Segan
Piper Perabo

Film Length: 116 minutes

Release Date: September 28, 2012

Distributor: Tristar Pictures