Thursday, October 11. 2012
Looper is, as you must know if you're interested in seeing it, a movie about time travel. As such, particularly if you have strong views about the Grandfather paradox, you might want to approach it with caution. A variation on it is used several times within the first half an hour or so and if you think that's nonsense you'll probably be fuming for the rest of the movie and not enjoy it.
If you either don't have strong views, or you're prepared to relax and just go with it for the story, there's a reasonably fun (although occasionally quite slow) story here. There's a big chunk of exposition to start with - the film is set in 2044 and by 2074 time travel has been invented. It's also illegal and like lots of illegal things, used by criminals - in this case large gangs. It's used, specifically, to send people they don't like back in time to an appointment with a Looper armed with a blunderbuss who kills the (bound, hooded and gagged) target and disposes of the body. Payment is usually silver bars tied to the back of the victim, but to stop future Loopers getting uppity and causing problems, they're sent back with extra large gold payments attached - called closing the loop - and you're out of a job with 30 years to live until you're sent back and younger-you kills older-you! They send the bodies back this way, because levels of monitoring etc. in the future make murdering people and disposing of their bodies very hard. It's not clear why those same levels of monitoring don't detect time machines though and get them closed down. (I can make up explanations but none are offered within the film.)
For some reason lots of Loopers are having their loops closed - and therein lies the start of the story. The young protagonist has his older self come back but not bound, hooded or gagged and escape. This is a Bad Thing™ for unspecified reasons that might result in the future being changed - having a lot of low-level, young, wealthy criminals around, the brains behind the operation can always get away with saying "Oh, let's not talk about all that complicated stuff" after all. There is, without an in-depth discussion, a nice touch about how the older you remembers your current actions - with cloudy waves of probability as young-you's future remains the future, and then it clicks into place after that moment has passed.
Future-protagonist has some news about why so many loops are being closed and it gives him a mission. Current-protagonist thinks future-protagonist isn't a very nice person and tries to wreck the plan. And therein lies the other big chunk of the story that leads to the eventual resolution. Given this is basically not in the advertising I've seen I'll not go into any details for risk of spoilers. Let's just say it's a nicely enough plotted story line with a few twists and turns and a number of action set pieces built in.
The film, both 2044 and 2074 in the brief glimpses we get of that, just presents us with a future world. It looks like the US economy has really tanked and there's been an oil crisis - but that's not told, just inferred from what we see. There's a large underclass and although it can't be the case, it looks like Loopers and the girls they like are the only ones with any money. There's quite a lot of fun little details about the future of technology and the world just presented like that which I think helps the mood quite nicely.
I have seen, and previously skimmed over, a few reviews suggesting this is a mind-bending, complex story. Maybe I blinked and missed the complexity. I found, once I'd found my feet in their framework, that it was a simple, straight-forward story. It was still a nice bit of post-collapse science-fiction, with enough science-fictional elements to keep me happy and a story that moved along nicely and provided a framework for the action scenes if they were what you want to watch. There was a part where I felt they were missing a "Yippee Kai-ay Motherfuckers!" to just make it the complete Bruce Willis vehicle but even there, there were story reasons for the fight scene that made sense.
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