Film review: Looper

  • 0 COMMENTS
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as Joe at two different ages in Looper. Photo: Alan Markfield. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as Joe at two different ages in Looper. Photo: Alan Markfield.

In 2072, living bodies can be tracked. When they’re no longer living, the authorities are alerted. Pity the mafia, which faces the prospect of not killing anyone it wants killed.

Luckily for future bad guys, there’s time travel. The mafia sends the poor souls it wants dispatched to the past. Disappearances don’t raise hackles—presumably because when the body disappears, it’s technically alive. Those who commit these mafia killings are “loopers.” Killing someone is “closing the loop.” Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a looper who runs into a loop he can’t close, namely his older self (that’s not a spoiler; it’s in the trailer).

One of the most intriguing aspects of Looper is the way it sets time travel rules and then sticks to them. Post-movie debates won’t include phrases like, “But when he went back, how did he…?”

Unfortunately, there’s the story to deal with. The first 30 minutes of Looper are fascinating. So are the last 30. That leaves the middle 58, which are dull and filled with the silliness one might find in a lazy undergrad’s haphazardly researched paper on logic and reasoning.

Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is saving money for a decent future but stuck in a rotten present. He dislikes his job—not because of the wanton killings, but because he’s something of a dreamer—and he’s addicted to a narcotic that users drop in their eyes as they would Visine. He has friends, including Paul Dano (who seems to be stretching until he falls into Paul Dano mode; please see There Will Be Blood’s final scene and Ruby Sparks’ denouement for comparison), who are also loopers. They’re cogs in a mob machine in which the thing to do on Friday night is make a coin levitate to impress women.

When Joe meets and has to kill his older self, there’s trouble. His older self (Bruce Willis) doesn’t want to die, which was part of a deal he inked 30 years earlier.The cat and mouse game that follows is fun, but then we veer off into that 58 minutes of boredom as young Joe recovers from drug addiction and holes up on a farm run by Emily Blunt.

In a way, Looper echoes John Frankenheimer’s French Connection II. For those who don’t remember—and who does?—it has a slam-bang start and finish, and an hour in the middle during which Gene Hackman is addicted to heroin. Withdrawal isn’t the only thing that happens in the middle of Looper, but it may be the only thing audiences remember. It serves as part of Joe’s story arc and a metaphor for what happens to the viewer. Then there’s Gordon-Levitt’s prosthetic make-up. He’s been altered to look like Willis but the changes in his eyes and face are distracting. Plus, we remember what a young Willis looked like, and this ain’t it. He and Gordon-Levitt do well enough, but Blunt is wasted. Garret Dillahunt has a couple of wonderfully creepy scenes. Looper has lots of great components but ultimately underperforms.

Have your say. Drop a line to mailbag@c-ville.com, send a letter to 308 E. Main St., or post a comment at c-ville.com.

Looper/R, 118 minutes/Regal Downtown Mall 6

Playing this week

2016 Obama’s America
Regal Downtown Mall 6

Arbitrage
Vinegar Hill Theatre

The Campaign
Regal Seminole Square 4

Dredd
Carmike Cinema 6

End of Watch
Regal Downtown Mall 6

Finding Nemo 3D
Carmike Cinema 6

For a Good Time, Call…
Regal Downtown Mall 6

Hope Springs
Regal Seminole Square 4

Hotel Transylvania
Carmike Cinema 6

House at the End
of the Street
Regal Seminole Square 4

Looper
Regal Downtown Mall 6

The Master
Regal Downtown Mall 6

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Regal Downtown Mall 6

Resident Evil:Retribution
Regal Seminole Square 4

Trouble With the Curve
Carmike Cinema 6

Won’t Back Down
Carmike Cinema 6

Movie houses

Carmike Cinema 6
973-4294

Regal Downtown
Mall Cinema 6
979-7669

Regal Seminole
Square Cinema 4
978-1607

Vinegar Hill Theatre
977-4911

Comment Policy