Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

October 11, 2012

Looper a successful time travel thriller

Andy Stuckey, Ryan Maddux
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The sci-fi thriller Looper is our movie of the week.

Set 30 (and 60) years in the future, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a mobster assassin who takes out targets sent from the future. When his next target turns out to be an older version of himself (portayed by Bruce Willis) things go bad. Willis escapes the trap and then goes on a self-serving mission to kill an evildoer from his time. Rian Johnson directs.

Ryan: Time traveling movies are almost always paradoxical and problematic. That’s not to say that they aren’t enjoyable, though. I bring this up because Looper comes at this issue from a different angle.  Looper basically admits in its own narrative that trying to wrap your head around the intricacies of time travel will do nothing but make your brain hurt. Not worrying about the issues of time travel is not only not important to the characters in the film but also not important to the audience as well. Some moviegoers might not like this qualified position, but I do think it goes a long way in helping viewers appreciate the film. There’s really nothing in Looper that is original, but it has a look and feel that seems fresh and in this case that’s good enough to make Looper a qualified success of a sci-fi flick.

Andy: As Ryan said, time travel movies tend to paint themselves into corners. In spite of its best efforts to keep you from thinking about it, it’s hard not to see the narrative (and logical) problems that arise when a character is interacting with a future version of himself. Looper has enough action and charisma to get around those problems, but they are still there. The question for the viewer becomes, do you want to think about how real these possibilities are, or do you want to sit back and enjoy the movie? If you are willing to sit back and go for a ride, Looper is pretty entertaining.    

Ryan: As I stated above, Looper starts to have issues when one really starts to peel away the time travel elements of the film.

But that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying the movie. Looper is a fine sci-fi film, and what really drives that point home is the notion of a younger self meeting his older self. That’s an interesting idea that normally doesn’t get played out to this degree in many other science fiction movies. But seeing Gordon-Levitt and Willis embody the same character at different points in the character’s life is quite engaging (especially in the scenes they share).

Andy: Stylistically, Looper makes some interesting choices. In spite of being set at least 30 and sometimes 60 years in the future, it does not go out of its way to show off how futuristic the world has become. Even with time travel and telekinesis existing in the future, things look and feel more or less the same as they do now. If anything, the general population comes across as more desolate and downtrodden, but in a very realistic way. This ends up being an effective device that makes Looper feel more like social commentary than the plot is indicating.

Ryan: Gordon-Levitt has already proven to me that he’s one of the most promising young actors in Hollywood and Willis continues a nice alternate career path with futuristic sci-fi movies (12 Monkeys and  The Fifth Element). But the real breakthrough performance in this movie is the young actor (Pierce Gagnon) who plays Cid (who may or may not grow up to become the evil persona knows as Rainmaker). For only playing a 10-year-old, Gagnon plays his character with a feverish dark side that almost makes Looper more of a horror-suspense movie at the end than a straight up sci-fi flick. It’s a pretty remarkable performance for a child.

Looper is an adequate thriller with entertainment value that outweighs its flaws. Final grade: B.