Film Review “Looper”

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 58 mins
Tri Star Pictures

2 out of 5 stars

Have you ever had one of those “what the hell was that” moments? I had one tonight as I tried to figure out what happened to the two hours I spent watching the new film “Looper.”

Kansas in the year 2044. As someone who lives there in the present day I’m kind of upset to see that it doesn’t really change much three decades from now. We come across Joe (Gordon-Levitt) standing in a field. A few yards away is a plastic tarp spread out on the ground. He checks his watch. Suddenly, a bound and kneeling figure appears. BOOM! A quick blast with his shotgun and Joe has made his money. Joe is a Looper.

Kind of a reverse-“Terminator” without any of James Cameron’s wit (or wisdom), “Looper” informs us that, 30 years into the future, time travel will have been invented. Of course, it will also be outlawed. And, like the bumper stickers say, when you outlaw time travel only outlaws WILL time travel. The guy who just popped by in the field had been sent back from the future by the underworld kingpin that controls the future. This way the body is disposed in the past with no one in the future any more the wiser. Confused? Good, I thought it was just me. Anyway, the Looper kills his mark, and then receives his pay in silver bars, which he cashes in. Occasionally the Looper will discover the dead guy comes with gold bars. Sadly, this means the Looper has just killed his future self. It also means he’s free to go live his life how he wants for the next 30 years until…well, you know. When Joe realizes that he has to kill his future self (Willis, who will from here on in be known as Old Joe) he balks, allowing Old Joe to escape. Now it’s a battle of Joe vs Joe, and may the best Joe win!

A clever premise that somehow got lost in translation from page to screen, “Looper” tries to be a little bit of everything. Time Travel picture…lost love story…Tarantino-esque dark comedy. The problem is that it tries to be all of those at the same time. Gordon-Levitt does a fine job here as the smooth killer facing a tough decision. Through the magic of CGI, Joe resembles what Hollywood thinks Bruce Willis look like, which is a cross between Sean Connery (1964) and Marlon Brando from “On the Waterfront.” Willis is fine, basically playing himself, and Blunt has some good scenes as a young mother with a secret. However, all of the hard work is lost in the plot and stilted in the direction, both of which were contributed by Rian Johnson.



Comments

  1. wow, you missed the slow building subliminal underscore full circle child abuse score of the movie all together or it didn’t interest you? as a female, it made all the violence justifable. this is a thought provoking movie, deeper than any sci fi movie i’ve seen in my fifty years of movie going.

  2. I’m with reeblite in that this is one of the deeper science fiction films I’ve seen. This review completely misses the mark. I’ll confess it lost me the moment it claimed that a James Cameron film had wisdom (!). And then to say this one had less? That’s a poor joke, sir.

  3. I felt like this entire film was a total waste of time. The time travel mechanics, upon any scrutiny, fall apart. And the ending is one of the biggest let-downs I’ve ever seen! It had potential, but all of it was squandered by Looper trying to be too many things at once, as you say.

  4. it was a mess. it was a nice try, but it was a mess. terminator gone bad. willis was the draw, blunt was a draw, but the movie didnt do it. too many gaps and too many missed opportunities to like future and history / cause and effect etc

  5. Have to agree with the reviewer. There is nothing of note to defend in the movie. The characters are like cardboard cutouts, there are too many unnecessary scenes, the direction is weak, the cinematography is uninspiring, the dialogue at times dull, plot holes galore, the effects lack lustre, and JGL’s face was disturbing…what probabl was a good script got lost in translation

  6. I am a bit surprised at the high reviews for this movie in general. Its not a bad move, but it wasn’t “super awesome” either.

    This movie definitively has the worst and stupidest use of time travel ever – and I’ve watched all the recent seasons of Doctor Who. People in the future send people back into the past in order to have the bodies disposed of?!!?!?

  7. SPOILERS IN THIS COMMENT:

    I wouldn’t give the movie 2/5, but I wouldn’t give it the rave reviews it seems to get, either. I’m with Isaac – the ending of the movie was the biggest let down. After a full movie where the entire tension was to find out how they would allow both JGL and Bruce’s versions of Joe come out with what they wanted out of the situation, what they ended up with was a situation in which neither did.

    For me, the ending wiped out any need for anything beyond the diner scene in the movie. Either of the Joe’s could have shot each other right there and the story would have effectively ended the same. What it meant to me was that it left only one story – that of Emily Blunt and her son – having value. The story of Joe and his wife, on the other hand, ended up being an irrelevant, unsatisfying sidebar.

    This is especially annoying when the ending could have been resolved very easily thusly; young Joe, having realised the whole situation was caused by Joe (in some incarnation) killing Emily Blunt’s character, would then realise not to shoot her. Old Joe, who desmontrably remembers everything young Joe is doing in the movie, would thus also remember why he should not kill her and come to the same realisation. Thus, the ending which makes the most sense is for noone to shoot anyone, and for Old Joe to disappear, having never been sent back in time due to the Rainmaker not ever having ‘taken over’.

    If they had landed the ending in a way which serviced all subplots, maybe it would have been worth the rave reviews. As it is, the more I think about the movie, the more it disappoints me.

    (On the bright side, it had some real strengths. It had a great sense of humour, and Jeff Daniels was absolutely fantastic).

  8. SPOILERS!

    Ben,

    Agreed. If Young Joe had fallen in love with Emily Blunt it would have superseded Old Joe’s love for his wife, since Blunt had already “saved” him from his addiction. Those feelings would have made Old Joe unable to shoot Blunt.

    Young Joe becomes a father figure to the kid and prevents him from becoming The Rainmaker.

    Instead, we’re left with no actual resolutions for the characters. The main character(s) of Joe is essentially erased from existence and, for all we know, the kid still might still grow up to be The Rainmaker!

  9. Eric Jillson says:

    I find it pretty hilarious that many peoples criticisms have to do with “plot holes” as a result of their fixation on the time travel element of the film. It’s a movie folks. Time travel is used here as plot device to allow for the thematic elements of the film. It seems that most people don’t have much respect for sci-fi as they expect it to do certain things for them and when it doesn’t they trash it. See it all the time. This isn’t a movie about time-travel and it’s not a traditional action movie. This is mainly a movie about actions and their consequences and why we take these actions. Why does the Rainmaker exist? Can we change/do the right thing? Comparing this movie to Terminator is fairly shallow and two-dimensional. If you think this movie lacks “wisdom” that James Cameron could somehow bestow upon it I think you have had a little too much of whatever it is you are smoking. I love the Terminator films but I never thought to myself, “now here is a smart movie with it’s heart in the right place.” Try watching this film again sans four beers.

  10. Anyone who thinks James Cameron is witty and wise should not be doing professional movie reviews.

  11. oh, i didn’t know people knew the mechanics of time travel!? oh wait… its a film so take it with a pinch of salt. It was a good film, some people will get it some won’t.

  12. So boring. what a waste of time. a movie with a plot that could have been great but fell behind the bad hollywood cliche! sacrifice of the hero, survival of the poor kid, a hero hesitating between reason and hope. how dumber can it be?

  13. In all fairness, I will give the “recycled ideas” critcism of this film a pass. Time travel has been done before, child antagonists have been portrayed before, from-the-future antiheroes have been put on screen before. And they will be again…and thats okay, because there are numerous dimensions (no pun intended) to still explore with these ideas.

    That said, the way a film handles a time machine, or a child villain, or time-related continuity varies from film to film. There’s a difference between a film that has an intriguing and thrilling storyline that twists and turns, revealing set pieces of information to reach a designated goal (much like a mystery), and a film that has a confusing and inconsistent storyline that plods along and can go in any direction it chooses.

    To me this film was the latter. If the writers attempt any twist in this film its because they tried to bury it from the beginning, and wander directionlessly in an attempt that you’d forget about it.

    Yes, this was a bad movie. It got slow. The plot was confusing and had inconsistent details, the direction wandered all over the place, there was a severe lack of editing which left the film long and unentertaining.

    To be fair I can even handle confusing as long as a film is entertaining, but this just wasn’t entertaining after a while. The story slowed down several times the viewer is left at the end with a film that could go anywhere on a whim. If the viewer can’t argue with a films’ continuity, and since there were no set rules to begin with, it becomes a catalyst for apathy for the main characters–and plain ol’ critical boredom.

    That said, the special effects were nice, the acting wasn’t distracting. They couldn’t save the storyline or the lay of the movie though.

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