Dir: Rian Johnson, 2012
By 2074, time travel has been invented and outlawed. With the disposal of corpses near-impossible due to DNA tracking, the mafia secretly sends people they went killed back to 2042, where assassins known as ‘loopers’ finish the job. Joe, one of the most prolific loopers in employ, accidentally lets his target escape after realising his target is his future self. On the run, Joe must find his older self and terminate him and evade his sadistic employers until he does so.
Looper is the latest in a series of films with interesting theories that unfortunately are too convoluted for their own good. The laws of physics are strict when it comes to the impossibility of time travel and Johnson enforces them only when it benefits his film. A sequence involving an on the-run loop suffering deformities inflicted on his past self is creative and chilling in its practicality and yet the simple rule of the butterfly effect isn’t taken into account.
Johnson tries to avoid explaining his intricacy as much as he can, even giving Willis the line of “I don’t want to talk about time travel because we’ll be here all day”, which is an all too convenient cop-out for the lone writer/director. This would be an acceptable diversion if Johnson chose to spend his time fleshing out the characters rather than including arbitrary subplots of telekinesis, narcotics and a farmhouse retreat that dwells far too long.
However amateur the content its presentation is lush with Johnson’s vision of the future pleasantly simple. There are no ambitious Back to the Future-style gadgets nor Minority Report-class weapons. 2044 Kansas may look a little brighter but its core is stricken with socio-economic collapse and gangland crime. Even the blunderbusses the loopers use on their victims are firearms that have been considered obsolete since the 17th century.
In terms of casting, Johnson reunites with his (and Hollywood’s current) golden boy JGL but his forged appearance in the film bundles any chance of a reasonable lead performance. Interestingly enough, for an actor whose placement demanded Gordon-Levitt to be swathed in prosthetics, Bruce Willis is remarkably underutilised, instead portraying a voiceless background assassin – a Terminator without the dread or urgency. Emily Blunt rounds out the leading trio in a particularly superfluous role for an actress of her calibre. All in all, Johnson’s morally ambiguous characters demand no emotional reaction from the viewers but worst of all, don’t demand interest.
Rian Johnson’s endeavour in Hollywood box office has become a financial success due to the present popularity of his friend Gordon-Levitt and the attention of Willis but feels like it belongs as a twenty-minute episode of The Twilight Zone. Looper may pique your curiosity but it rarely holds your attention on its painfully dull journey to an anticlimax that will have audiences shrugging.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆