Action adventure time-traveler bad guys movie Looper is out on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital rental this week. Looper writer and director Rian Johnson says that the central question asked by the film is “Does solving a problem by finding the right person and killing them ever work? Or does it create a self-perpetuating loop of violence?” I’m going to say the answer to that is a categorical yes, although I get why someone might ask the question. The work which first made me take notice of Rian Johnson is his high school noir Brick, also starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Johnson has also directed a couple of episodes of one of my favorite cinematic works ever, Breaking Bad.
A humorously evil Jeff Daniels gets all the best lines. Actually, now that I look at the text of the quotes, Jeff Daniels just has pretty effing great comic delivery in this flick because this is seriously hilarious when he says it:
Joe: I’m going to France.
Abe: You should go to China.
Joe: I’m going to France.
Abe: I’m from the future. You should go to China.
The other quote I love is when Jeff Daniels says:
This time travel crap, just fries your brain like a egg.
This time travel shit fries your egg like a brain.
I didn’t think to write down the specifics and the internet is not in agreement on this point.
Anyway, the cinematography in Looper is gorgeous. The imagined dystopian futures are not terribly futuristic, but they are believable and intriguing. The seedy hookers-and-cyberblow nightclub where the high roller hitmen go is so visceral that you get why they would agree to living for only thirty more years, if those thirty years involved rolling like this on a regular basis. I pretty much always like Bruce Willis’ vibe in movies and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a really good job of playing a young Bruce Willis, much better than I would have guessed possible from his previous roles. Really showed a range. Bonus points for casting Garret Dillahunt (from the 4400) as one of the 2044 gangsters. Rian Johnson gets excellent performances out of all of his actors. Parts of the movie drag a little at the end, but it is solid.
I would say that Looper is probably the best time travel movie I have ever seen. Which is probably true. The only caveat there is that I effing hate hate hate time travel in my science fiction. Maybe it is just because physics is basically the only area of human inquiry I have never taken an intro class in. Maybe it is because I think contemplating time travel leads to regret. Maybe I just find multiple parallel universes and multiple possible futures and pasts and everything all happening at once . . . well, I find it lazy writing. Yo, writer, have the balls to make a choice and stick to it.
Also, there was not as much shooting and mobster stuff in this movie as I expected and hoped for. The female characters were as poorly fleshed-out as I expect in an action movie and exist just to motivate the real players, the men.
But, all that said, even if you loathe time travel themes, the plotting is elegantly tight for a time travel flick, the visuals are easy on the eyes, the acting is top notch, and Looper is a decent watch.