Saturday, January 5, 2013


On the last day of my Thanksgiving visit with my father in Las Vegas, we went to see Looper at a dollar movie house.

Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis & Emily Blunt; directed by Rian Johnson; (2012) - Official Website

Critically acclaimed and making some Best of 2012 lists, I found Looper to be listless and a little too clever for its own good.

The film is set in 2044 when the US is in economic collapse.  In 2074, time travel is invented.  Organized crime uses time travel to send back people they want killed.  Their emissary is Abe (Jeff Daniels), the only person from the future who isn't targeted for assassination.  Abe rounds up younger version of men he knows in the future to be his hit squad.  At appointed times, people arrive from the future where they are immediately killed by one of Abe's men.  The victims are sent back with silver strapped to their backs which is payment for Abe and the killer.  Eventually, the killer's future self is sent back in time with gold strapped to his back.  When the younger self kills the older self, it is called "closing the loop" and the gold is a final payment for the killer who retires from the business.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of these "loopers."  His future self, Old Joe, is played by Bruce Willis. Gordon-Levitt does an admirable job mimicking Willis' speech patterns.  Not closing the loop is a big no-no and punishable with torture and mutilation.  By amputating a limb on the younger version, the older version knows his younger self has broken the rules.  I don't understand why they just don't kill the younger self.  The explanation is killing the younger version would change the future but doesn't cutting off someone's leg change the future?  It's these kids of inconsistencies which annoyed me about the film.

Anyway, we see a two time loops for Joe.  In one loop, he is killed as planned.  Joe retires, moves to China, falls in love but sees his wife killed by gangsters who have come to send him back to 2044 to be killed.  Not content with the way his life turned out, Old Joe returns to the past and overpowers his younger self.  His intention is to kill the Rainmaker, the all powerful mobster in 2074 who is just a boy in 2044.  I forgot to mention some people have telekinetic powers which comes into play later.

Young Joe has to avoid Abe's men and kill Old Joe in order to keep all his limbs.  Both Joes track the Rainmaker down to a farm and encounter Sarah (Emily Blunt) and her son who has powerful telekinetic power beyond anyone's imagination.  The climax is a showdown.  Old Joe wants to kill the boy and is willing to kill Sarah in order to accomplish this task.  Young Joe realizes if the kid see Sarah murdered, the trauma will turn him into the Rainmaker.  Killing Old Joe won't necessarily make much difference because he might return in the next loop.  The only option is to kill himself so that Old Joe doesn't exist.

Looper is an interesting film.  It's always fun to work through the time travel impacts and seeing Gordon-Levitt do a Bruce Willis impersonation is fun.  Jeff Daniels makes the most of his time and there is much speculation if the character Kid Blue (Noah Segan) is younger version of Abe.  There is a certain symmetry to the theory as Old Joe kills Abe and Joe kills Kid Blue thus destroying the timeline if Kid Blue become Abe.  I'd have to watch the film a second time to state an opinion but I didn't think enough of the film to merit a second viewing.  Maybe when it comes on TV.

However, clever plotlines and geeky discussions on time travel do not a great film make.  I didn't think Looper was one of the best films of the year.  My father became so confused and later bored with the film that he left the theater and took a nap in the car.

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