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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Looper - A Review

If I had a dollar for every time I wished I could go back in time and box myself around the ears for my stupid mistakes I would have enough money to invent the time machine that would allow me to do it.

This movie is sort of about that... but not really.

One of my favourite movie tricks is to release a trailer and get your potential audience believing that the film is about one thing, and then completely blow their minds with something slightly or completely different.

That's what Looper did for me.

I thought, from the trailers, that this movie was going to be about this hotshot assassin played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who gets sent his targets from the future until one day the target just happens to be him and then they spend the rest of the movie trying to protect each other from the bad guys.

Well, it was a lot more complicated than that and you need to watch this film with your eyes wide open (except for the nudey scenes) and your ears unplugged to grasp the full extent of what's going on.

Joe, resident of 2044 (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper.

In the 2070's disposing of bodies isn't so easy for the mob so they use the highly illegal technology of time travel to send their victims back to the 2040's for extermination and incineration for remuneration. The Loopers are the guys who do the killing. The movie opens, more or less, with Joe looking like he's about to have a picnic, the table cloth is laid out, he's in the centre of solitude, by a corn field, when suddenly in the middle of the sheet appears a guy with a bag over his head, Joe blasts him away with his future gun and then dumps him in a furnace at some factory. All in a days work for Joe.

You can quickly tell he's a bit over it. He gets by hooked on some eye dropping drug that seems to be the latest rage on the drug scene while storing his bars of silver in a sort of vault under his apartment's floor boards. He learns French for the day he can leave all of this behind him.

Of course there's a downside to being a Looper (as if killing people, being addicted to drugs and learning French wasn't enough!) which is that in the future, when the mob decides its time to "close the loop" they send older you back to be killed by younger you. Something Joe's best friend Seth, played by Paul Dano, fails to do when his future self comes back singing the lullaby his mommy used to sing to him as a child...

Well, because of the dire consequences to the space time continuum, or perhaps because of paranoia, the future mob don't like when someone fails to close a loop. Joe at first does all he can to protect his friend until it becomes very clear that he can't and he betrays him for his stash of silver (sounds kind of like Judas don't you think?).

So by now you get the gist of what's going on. So far it sounds like what I thought the movie was going to be about. But what I didn't expect was that the film would have an Xmen element - mutants.

Apart from the far out notion of time travel the stage is also set for the idea that now, in 2044, some Humans have developed a weird mutation that gives them the ability to move small objects with their minds. I loved the line during Joe's early narrative, "At first everyone thought there was going to be super heroes... but this was the extent of it..." (not verbatim) mocking the idea that evolution came to the party and all it brought with it was a new party trick - coin levitation. You get the idea at this point that something important has just been thrown your way, so you shelve it and pay attention.

Joe goes out for his usual picnic lunch of carnage and as expected he is joined by his futuristic "guest", only this time the guy isn't wearing his usual head covering and his eyes say it all. Joe has to kill his future self.

Except he doesn't, because his future self is Bruce Willis, and in good Willis style future Joe gets away.

I have to resist the gastric urge to spew out the rest of the story but I want to leave somethings for you to discover yourself...

However, I will say that future Joe has come back with not quite the agenda I had him pegged for. It turns out that in the future there is a new guy, the Rain Maker, who has taken over all the mob syndicates and is "closing all the loops". Sending future Joe back was part of that process but when they finally came for him they took from him the only woman he had ever loved and the only person who saved him from his life filled of pointless murder and drug abuse.

Fueled with the stuff that drives revenge, he has come back to kill the younger version of this Rain Maker guy so as to prevent the death of his future wife.

There's only one problem, present Joe (well, 2044 Joe) has sobered up on a farm run by a rough-as-guts farm lady, Emily Blunt, who lives alone with her son who just happens to be one of the three children born on the same day as this Rain Maker and "present Joe" knows that "future Joe" is going to get here sooner or later so he opts to stay and protect his knew friends...

Why do I get the urge to say, "Are you Sarah Conner?" in an Austrian Accent here?

I'm not going to spill the beans on who the Rain Maker turns out to be but this is where the Telekinesis comes into it, when "Present Joe" meets the mutant who can make it rain by tearing open his victms with his mind and creating the red rain of blood. Its kind of cool when you first see it but then you realise what you're seeing is actually really gross.

A few things to mention. Emily Blunt, up until recently not my favourite actress, but to see her go from Salmon Fishing in the Yemen's proper English Harriot to hardened futuristic southerner was quite impressive. Her ability to act, and not just look the part, is moving up on my act-o-metre.

They did a great number on Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face in this one too, giving him the same forehead as Bruce Willis to make it completely believable that he could grow up to Die Hard! he got the accent right to and seemed to have done something to his voice to sound like his voice could evolve into future Joe's.

Paul Dano definitely deserved a bigger role. After seeing him in There Will Be Blood I can't believe he wasn't utilized more. I can't say anymore without severely spoiling the plot... but if I was honest I would have to say there wasn't really enough room in the story to fit another major character... sorry Dano.

Being a student of Sci Fi I was happy to see elements of some of my favourite's woven into this film, from X-men (sort of) to Twelve Monkeys to the good old fashioned terminator, not to mention the awe of action that Bruce Willis brings with him to any movie no matter how old he gets!

This story wasn't just a simple time travel tale (though I would question whether any time travel movie is simple, I've actually seen the phrase "Time Travel Consultant" in film credits before), Its a story about being given the opportunity to face your past self and say, "Hey, clean up your act you little punk!" While also being a story about being able to look into the future to see what you may become and say, "On second thoughts, I think I'll stay off the drugs." And finally it is the tale of breaking cycles, when you realise if you're stuck in a cycle, or a loop, the only one who can break it is you.

Be warned, this movie is raw, graphic and does contain a small amount of nudity, a moderate amount of drug use and a hefty bag of violence to go with it. I tend to ignore these things and focus on the story, but if you can't handle the obscene expressions of this particular time travel tale then I suggest you stick to Back to the Future or the classic episodes of Doctor Who!

So the question I have to ask is if I had a time machine that could send me back to three hours ago, before I watched this movie, would I do that or would I go back and prevent myself from writing this shoddy review? I would have to say neither. I would go to the future and see the movie there, and then come back and get an earlier night.

I'll give this movie a 7 out of 10 for being clever, twisty and thought provoking but if I had to rate the violence, profanity, drug use and nudity, I would need to use integers...

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1 comment:

  1. The cast is great, especially JGL who has been having a stellar career so far, but the plot it what really kept me interested as it continued to throw twist-after-twist at me, without any confusion whatsoever. It’s a great sci-fi flick that actually makes sense. Good review Kerin.


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