January 3, 2013
It Doesn’t Exactly Rewrite History
Looper is a movie that’s been on my radar for quite some time. It’s about mafia-types who are involved in time travel for the sake of eliminating unwanted “garbage,” and it features both the formidable Bruce Willis and Nightwing himself, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Because I don’t have quite as much free time as I used to, I had to skip this one in theaters. When it finally trickled down the DVD/Blu-ray format earlier this week, however, I was all over it.
This is the perfect example of a movie that quietly made its way into cinemas without having an overabundance of pomp and circumstance paving the way. I’d taken a fleeting interest in it upon reading about the movie’s story line, but it wasn’t until a multitude of friends took to Facebook in order to sing its unparalleled praises that I genuinely took interest. And, I have to say, though solidly crafted it is, I found the movie to be a bit of a letdown. Let me explain why.
With any time travel flick, one expects there to be plenty of mind-bending timelines that crisscross with one another (heck, they may even congeal into something indecipherable in the final moments, but the goal is to keep the audience playing the “prediction” game throughout). While Looper does this, I found it far too easy to foresee how things would play out (this was in stark contrast to 12 Monkeys, Willis’ other time travel movie). To delve into the specifics of this would put me at risk of including spoilers in my review, so suffice it to say that, though well written, there was nothing Earth-shattering about our protagonists’ concluding revelation. Another point of contention—and one that has been widely discussed, I believe—was the decision to drown JGL in make-up so as to make him resemble a young Willis. At times, it works, but more often than not I found it nearly impossible to not envision the actor with his true face. Would it have been better to simply allow JGL to be, well, himself, and to sparingly use CGI to fill in the awkward transition moments during his character’s life? I don’t know. Still, I can’t ignore the fact that the make-up was more of a distraction than a boon.
Actually, I think Looper‘s greatest strength is its focus on the development of telekinesis as a part of the human genome in the not too distant future. Some of the film’s best moments come as a result of this plot point, and I wish a little more focus on this would have been the order of the day.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Looper is far better than the vast majority of drivel that Hollywood allows to make it past the stages of early drafting, and it makes for perfectly good viewing for anyone who enjoys sci-fi. Just don’t expect it to rewrite history.