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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3227)

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Looper 
Back Where We Started - Here We Go Round Again
3/4 stars

When I first heard about the concept for Looper, I knew this was going to be a film I had to watch. Time travel has always interested me when it comes to movies - whether it's taken seriously (as in Primer) or tongue-in-cheek (Timecrimes). Looper just sounded interesting: criminal syndicates in the future sending people back in time to be murdered by specially-designated "Loopers" - who, as it turns out, also end up having to kills their future selves as part of this cushy job.

The fact this is directed by Rian Johnson (who impressed me with Brick) and stars the talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt (under some modified prosthetics), action staple Bruce Willis and a scene-stealing Jeff Daniels - well, that a recipe for success. I have to say that the finished project , while not without fault, it just about as good as I could have hoped, but different than I was expecting.

I think the film is a lot deeper than I was expecting. Oh, sure, there's plenty of action (and a bit of shocking violence) at times, but messages about things like free will and judgement (or judging others) run hand-in-hand with shootouts. This is a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat (despite quite a bit of the movie being set on a farm, of all places) but a movie that also makes you think about consequences of your actions and whether a person can really change.

The movie is set in 2044 - with the time-travel future set 30 years later - and let me tell you, the future is not pretty. Roving gangs of vagrants are apparently causing trouble, technology looks like it has hit a brick wall (we have flying bikes, but they usually don't work and the cars looks to be patch-work old models with a weird gas/solar hybrid thing going) and although people have developed telekinesis, far from being X-Men - they can only muster enough strength to levitate quarters. Crime syndicates have the power - they control the cities and the Loopers enjoy the good life - four silver bars per kill, eye-drop drugs that make the world look better and nights spent with loose women and plenty to drink. Our main man, Joe, is all about living this good life - but also knows to plan ahead, so is putting away half his silver to enjoy overseas.

Yet always in the back of the mind is when one has to "close the loop" - that is, take out their future selves. And, soon into the movies, we're shows that these events are occurring with much more frequency. Should something terrible happen, and your future self goes free, well, it turns out it may be bad for both your present and future self. In what is probably my favorite scene in the movie, Paul Dano's character Seth finds out just how bad as some impromptu surgery is performed, and we find out in graphic detail how changes in the past effect yourself in the future.

But before this gruesome outcome, he does pass along a few interesting tidbits about the future - mainly a mysterious man known only as the "Rainmaker" taking over pretty much everywhere and also closing every loop he can. Willis returns to the past and thanks to some quick thinking, manages to escape himself. Gordon-Levitt, perhaps not the most forward-thinking of criminals, does not heed advice and goes back to the city, nearly getting killed a few times in the process.

Turns out Willis wants to secure his future - a woman he met changed his life for the better, and he wants to keep that life - in order to do that, he figures the best possible solution is to take out the "Rainmaker" and thanks to a tip, he has narrowed it down to three addresses. Of course, 30 years in the past, this "reign of terror" is just a child. But Willis isn't about to forgo his perfect future - so offing a few kids means nothing if it will make things better.

Gordon-Levitt, meanwhile, finds himself hiding out on a farm with Emily Blunt and her son (the superbly cast Pierce Gagnon - who has a 1000-yard-stare that goes straight to your soul). This farm happens to be one of the three locations Willis has marked on his "kill children" agenda. Wouldn't you know - the whole movie leads to one epic confrontation not just between the younger and older Joes - but the entire syndicate, who wants both of them taken out.

That's a lot to digest and, for the most part, they deal with time travel pretty well. I especially like the 30 years of Joe's post-looper life distilled into about a ten-minute montage of partying, violence and finally redemption. Of course, this entire future may or may not happen depending on how future Joe influences the past. The heart of the movie isn't about whether the future can be changed, but whether people can change. Young Joe is a killer, a drug addict, with little to no human contact aside from strippers and his one somewhat friend Seth - Old Joe is not much different, aside from the one good thing to happen in his life - and he wants to make that future a permanent reality.

Young Joe, confronted by this knowledge, sticks to his guns (literally) and tries to off his future self because he wants to appease his boss and secure his (short) future. Speaking of Joe's boss, here is where I give my love to Daniels, who absolutely kills in his laid-back, yet take-no-prisoners attitude. I only wish he had more screen time. A funny thing happens as Young Joe is stuck on a farm - he changes - his attitude changes and instead of wanting to kill his future self for his own reasons, he realizes he has to stop his future self from making a grave mistake.

So with all that is good, what's wrong? Despite bouts of action and some unexpected moments, Looper does take awhile to get going and, like any good sci-fi film dealing with time travel, involves a lot of extrapolation. The "cloudy" metaphor about dealing with the changing future is overtly-present. While I think they did a good job of making time travel plausible, you can still pick out flaws in their logic. I hate nitpicking, but it's still present. Also, I can't remember a thing about the music, so it wasn't that memorable of a score. Gordon-Levitt's transformation into a young Willis is amazing, but I have to say it was also a bit distracting. Still, props for going through that every day.

In the end, after the drought of decent movies in theaters since, well, at least a month, I'm glad to say Looper makes things right. It's not perfect, but it's entertaining and it really does leave you with something to think about aside from some nifty gun fights and silver hoarding.


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