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Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Noah Segin, Jeff Daniels
Plot: Looper Joe (Levitt) suffers an identity crisis, when he is ordered to kill his future self (Willis).

I was not expecting Looper to be as good as it was. Sure, the names attached should have let me know that what I was about to watch would be amazing, but I didn’t clock this as a show-stopper. Maybe it was something about the very subject of time-travel. It is rarely done right and often gets so complicated that it slows the movie down. For whatever reason, I began ignoring the critics, when they swore that Looper was the next Matrix movie. In honesty, they were wrong. This film is nothing like the Matrix, but if you want something a bit more drama-based and gritty, then you might find this much better.

As soon as the film opens, we are given something a little different. This time travel movie may have Sci-Fi elements, but it feels more like a gangster crime thriller, with the protagonist, Joe, shooting his way through several victims, before heading to a strip club. He rattles through exposition, setting up the scene. He is a Looper, working for future versions of his gang, who send him people to kill, as it is harder to dispose of bodies in their time period. To avoid loose ends, a Looper’s contract is terminated, when their own future self is sent back to be killed by them. When Joe’s future self turns up, ready to be executed, the film kicks into an action thriller.

YIPPIE KI YAY, MOTHERFUCKER!

YIPPIE KI YAY, MOTHERFUCKER!

There is a horrific scene very early on in the film, when a future Looper is on the run. The bad guys capture his past self and begin mutilating him. We see his future self disappearing before our very eyes. It is a tough watch, gruesome and brilliant at the same time. It sets the tone for the film, as the audience is aware how far Rian Johnson is willing to go. This film handles some dark issues, especially the direction Bruce Willis’s character takes. It is a credit to everyone involved that it manages to stay tasteful.

Time travel never really ruins the plot. Sure, if we look hard enough, there are some plot holes in the movie, but there was always going to be. There is a fantastic moment in the film, when Bruce Willis’s character is given the job of explaining this universe’s concept of time travel. Rian Johnson chooses to breeze over explaining it, a great comical moment. We don’t need to try and understand time travel; it is our job to be entertained.

YIPPEE KI YAY, MOTHERFUCKER!

YIPPEE KI YAY, MOTHERFUCKER!

The performances are incredible. The three leads are perfectly suited for their roles. Joseph Gordon Levitt is an up and coming star, showing off that he can match Bruce Willis. I was worried the use of prosthetics to make Levitt look more like a younger Bruce Willis would become distracting, but Levitt carries it well, following up with just a trace of Willis’s accent. As for Willis himself, he is given a much more complex role that the actor has been allowed to tackle in a while. Sure, there is a trace of tough older figure that doesn’t look out of place in a Die Hard movie, but Johnson’s story takes him down some interesting routes. Willis’s character does some nasty things and somehow the actor makes his character sympathetic. For this reason, I am awarding him man of the match this time around.

Emily Blunt takes up the final lead and she is better than I have ever seen her before. Blunt has been given easy roles for a while now and it is refreshing to see her get to grips with a character that lets her show off her true talent. She is a good female role model and there is always a sense that she could kick ass, although there is never a specific moment where Johnson full on says it. Together these three leads are incredible and Johnson handles them perfectly.

Final verdict: Best original screenplay of 2012 in my book. Maybe the best time travel movie of all time.

Five stars.

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8 thoughts on “Looper: The Review

  1. Come on? The best time travel movie of all time? Twelve Monkeys anyone? Back to the Future?

    Also, I’m sorry, the plot holes were too big to gloss over.

    SPOILERS AHEAD.

    Like how they can’t kill anyone in the future. That’s the main premise of the movie. They have to send people back in time to kill them. Then they shoot Bruce Willis’ wife. In the future. When they can’t kill anyone. It just ruined everything for me. Also, why can’t they just kill people in the future and send the bodies back in time? It would make things a hell of a lot easier.

    For me it was probably one of the worst movies I’ve seen in awhile. Major plot holes and bad writing make for a terrible movie.

  2. SPOILER: Also pretty much just a reply to Grant.

    Her death is accidental and the holy rain of terror is a tker who single-handedly took control of the criminal underworld. Pretty sure the rules have changed by the time Bruce Willis’s character has been sent back. Not everything a character tells you is gospel and they could easily have given up the guy who accidentally killed the wife to the cops. Murder isn’t impossible in the future, but getting away with it without someone getting caught is.

    Sometimes audience members have to adapt to changes in the status quo of a storyline. That’s part of the point of plot progression. Hell the whole point of the second half of the film is that a gamechanger is present. A movie isn’t bad because you find it difficult to progress with it or you stop paying attention.

    I’m with you on Twelve Monkeys though, best time travel movie ever.

    • More spoilers!

      Okay so even if her death is accidental, it doesn’t excuse the fact that they are carrying guns with the ability to kill people when they aren’t supposed to be killing people.

      The other giant plot hole though is that the whole revelation at the end that Bruce Willis is in fact the person that created the guy who took control of the criminal underworld. However, we only know this happened in the future because of people in the future coming back in time. So before Bruce Willis gets sent back in time, the new criminal mastermind is forcing people to close their loops. This criminal mastermind is created by sending Bruce Willis back in time.

      Now at this point we know that Bruce Willis is there because of an alternate timeline when his younger self actually shot him. So in that reality Bruce Willis didn’t try to destroy the kid, kill his mother and create this awful person. So how does this person exist if Bruce Willis hasn’t existed in order to create this person. In fact, that’s why Joseph Gordon Levitt shoots himself because if Bruce Willis isn’t alive in that reality the kid won’t become evil. But in the timeline when he comes back in order to survive, he at one time was shot and killed so he wasn’t there to make the kid evil in order to close the loops and get sent back in time in order to make the kid evil.

      My brain just exploded.

      It’s just too big of a plot hole to ignore. WAY WAY WAY too big. And it makes the movie (for me) really unbearable. Because you just can’t really believe anything anymore. Because if you create alternate timelines then other stuff becomes wrong as well.

      The biggest example is that when Bruce Willis comes from the future to the past, he’s from a timeline where he kills his future self. Now he’s in a timeline where he doesn’t kill his future self. So at this point, Willis’ and Levitt’s timelines diverged. That means that they are now two independent creatures and are no longer linked historically. So when Levitt scars his own body, Willis’ body shouldn’t have magically become scarred. Because they are from alternate timelines. Or as soon as they changed the timeline, all of those things should have happened to Willis immediately. It’s unclear to me why certain things like scars happen immediately and other things like memories seem to not change immediately. Oh wait it is clear: MAJOR PLOT HOLE.

      It’s just the more I think about it, the less sense the entire movie makes.

      Another reason why I don’t like the movie is I don’t really like either protagonist. Why should I be rooting for either Levitt or Willis when they both do horrible things. Levitt is a cold-blooded killer with no morals or empathy. Apparently he develops it later as Bruce Willis when he meets the love of his life and love changes him. But then Bruce Willis comes back in time and is trying to murder a child. Both of those things are awful and I wasn’t rooting for either of them.

  3. Even more spoilers…

    Murder is illegal not guns! Bad guys still do bad things and I’m sure guns have their place in the future, cops probably use them and military, and hell just for the pure intimidation factor. Not to mention extradition issues, and simply being a fugitive. Plus he could have just been lied to, we already know that the guy running the Loopers is a liar and happily uses torture by this point.

    You’re not supposed to root for either of them, you’re supposed to root for Emily Blunt. I didn’t really want to explain how the timeline works because it’s irritating and requires a fair bit of explanation but fine I’ll explain it once. Time in a lot of shows/film doesn’t have to be a case of just rewinding, or being parallel. Time can go back on itself and loop (hey look another level!) It just means that while the personal timeline changes, time itself is still moving forwards.

    If you find it too hard to believe, then that plot hole of Bruce Willis killing his future self can be easily explained with ‘Shit happens, Young Joe was wrong, and the kid didn’t turn out good in the end anyway.’ It just means the film is a little bleaker than you’d hope, which makes sense given the poignant ending.

    Memories are subjective, have a lot to do with force of will and choices. Choices that Young Joe has yet to make, Old Joe has gone back in time and is acting on the timeline as is Young Joe, it doesn’t make sense that things would happen instantly as they haven’t yet happened to the young self. When Young Joe makes a gets injured it immediately effects Old Joe because it’s divergent from his past in an immediately altering way. Old Joe loses his memories of his wife slowly because Young Joe starts to fall in love with Emily Blunt, but hasn’t yet committed to making that choice to stay with her instead of following what he was told to do by his boss and go to China. He doesn’t make that choice until the end of the film.

    • Well I’m glad you have manage to find justification for the weak story and terrible plot holes. They just don’t work for me. They sound more like excuses to try to make a flimsy story work instead of something the writers actually put some effort into in order to make a cohesive story that actually makes sense.

      What you say makes it seem like the only thing about time which is relevant is now. And things that you’ve done make no difference and things that you do make no difference. And it’s hard for me to believe that. I mean if once you go back in time 30 years all the things you’ve done over those 30 years become non-existent, then who the hell are you? Clearly you’re not you because nothing you’ve done actually happened.

      It’s also hard for me to watch a movie when I have no reason to like any of the main characters. And Emily Blunt’s character comes too late in the story to win me back.

      Let’s just say I’m glad I watched it on the plane.

  4. If you watch a film on the plane then you’re missing out, they cut a lot of scenes from those films and the whole experience of watching a film is watered down. Maybe when you’re bored you should try watching it on a TV and give it an actual chance. I don’t understand why it’s hard for you to believe that, it makes sense if you look at time in a similar way to how it’s explained in Doctor Who, although maybe you’re not a fan of that either.

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