Film: Looper loops through time

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October 5th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Where does the latest time-travel movie rank against other films from that genre? From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look at Looper.

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Ryan: Writer/director Rian Johnson’s latest movie, Looper, is pretty dense, so we should probably just get right into it.

Matt: Yeah, we don’t want our Looper stupor to cause bloopers, we should be super duper and not Looper poopers, so let’s be good troopers and talk about Looper.

Ryan: You done?

Matt: You should drive a Mini Cooper. There. I’m done.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (foreground) and Paul Dano in a scene from Looper.

Ryan: The conceit of this time travel tale is as follows: Around the year 2040, assassins are hired. These assassins, called “loopers”, are given a specific spot where they stand and wait. Victims sent from a future where body disposal is tough are sent back to that specific spot, their hands bound and face covered, and the looper kills them. The catch being, at some point, you have to “close your loop,” which means killing your future self. When young you kills old you, you are given vast wealth and can do anything for 30 years, until bad guys show up, bind your hands, bag your head, and send you back to be killed by you. Make sense?

Matt: Yes, but I saw the movie with you. You know that. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Young Joe, a looper who fails to kill Old Joe, played by Bruce Willis. This starts a cat and mouse game with two versions of the same person, so a cat and cat game or mouse and mouse game? Time travel confuses me.

Ryan: What makes Looper good is that both Willis and Levitt really bring their A games. The result is more film-noir than sci-fi, as it plays more like Chinatown than Back to the Future. That said, like Johnson’s first two films, I feel like he once more was better at creating a convincing world and complex characters than actually doing something with them.

Matt: Eh, you are too demanding. How often do you get a movie that is this smart, this well acted, and this downright creative? Who cares if the last third dovetails into a weirdly intimate philosophical drama. At least it has Emily Blunt and telekinesis.

Ryan: I am in no way suggesting it was bad. Only that I liked it when I hoped to love it.

Matt: Well, I’m sorry that it was only completely satisfying and not perfect.

Ryan: I’m still recommending it, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that this had the potential to be a watershed moment for the sci-fi genre, when in reality it was only a really nice example of it. Looper is a good time and a good time travel movie but not a great time travel movie or a super great time.

Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.

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