Movies

Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews Looper

|

Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews Rian Johnson's time-travel action thriller, Looper, in The Washington Times:

In an age of one-note — and no-note — action films, "Looper" is a rarity: a slick, neatly conceived high-concept thriller with a few too many interesting ideas.

That's a pleasure for moviegoers looking for a slightly unusual conceptual mashup. But it also turns out to be a problem when the film doesn't quite know what to do with all the ideas it has.

"Looper" begins in an economically depressed near-future world in which extreme wealth exists next to serious poverty. Major cities are overrun with vagrancy. Telekinetic mutations have developed in much of the population, but few can manage to do more than levitate a quarter.

Time-travel is on the horizon, but it won't be invented for another 30 years. The organized criminals of the future, however, have decided that the easiest way to do their dirty work is to send it to the past: Anyone the future mob wants to off is sent back in time to be blasted at close range by a looper, who is paid handsomely to execute and dispose of unwanted future persons.

Sometimes those persons turn out to be former loopers who are sent back to be executed by their younger selves. The "loop is closed," and the looper gets a big retirement payday — free to do what he wants with his life, at least until the day comes when he's sent back to be murdered by his younger self.

That's exactly what happens to Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a looper who one day finds himself staring down an older version of himself (Bruce Willis) who does not intend to die at the hands of his past.

Read the complete review.

Advertisement

NEXT: Baylen Linnekin on the Latest Misguided Attack on Sugary Drinks

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Looper 2, the search for curly’s gold: Suderman is future Loder back to try to write a better review.

  2. I have a gigantic problem with this film.

    I will try to say this without spoiling the whole film: (DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE GOOD AT DEDUCTION)

    Apparently the resolution of the entire film relies on the fact that the script sets up time travel rules that say paradoxes are OK.

    How fucking lazy is that?

    “Wow, you guys are making a time travel movie? How do you deal with paradoxes?” “Well, we just say paradoxes don’t matter and you can do whatever you want.”

    HUH WHA?

    1. Is he his own father?

      1. OK, more spoilers.

        THIS TIME I EXPLICITLY SPOIL THE MOVIE. DO NOT READ.

        Young Joe decides that the only way he can stop Old Joe is to kill himself. He kills himself; Old Joe disappears.

        The problem is that since he killed himself, Old Joe will never be around to travel back in time in the first place. So the whole movie should not have happened. But they say No, the whole movie did happen; all that changes is that Old Joe disappears at the end. How? How can Old Joe ever exist to travel back in time? How can he kill those people? “That’s just how our time travel works!” is the film’s answer.

        BS, man.

        1. They applied the same time travel rules as Back to the Future, that’s your complaint?

          1. They applied the same time travel rules as Back to the Future, that’s your complaint?

            No it didn’t. Whenever the past changes, the future changed accordingly. Although there are a few times where Marty looks like he’s going to fade out of reality, he never actually does. So we don’t know how the movie would have handled that.

            1. Marty fading out of reality is what is implied in the original movie, it is just that Marty never irrecovably prevents his future existance.

          2. Back to the Future is a goofy comedy fantasy that’s supposed to be fun.

            But people have been all over the internet telling me that Looper is smart sci-fi and the next Blade Runner.

            As a result I’m holding it to at least the standard I’d hold an episode of TNG to.

            1. Except Back to the Future tim travel is more like some current theories on time travel in the real world would be like (you can never return to your original timeline).

        2. Young Joe decides that the only way he can stop Old Joe is to kill himself. He kills himself; Old Joe disappears.

          The problem is that since he killed himself, Old Joe will never be around to travel back in time in the first place.

          Why would he kill himself today to stop him from killing himself in the future?

          Sounds like an idiotic premise.

          1. He kills himself to stop Old Joe from killing a 3rd party.

            Still dumb.

    2. If the “Many Worlds” interpretation of quantum physics turns out to be correct, then the existence of time travel paradoxes isn’t “lazy” it is merely “correct”.

      Jus’ sayin’

      1. Um, no. “Many universes” does not pre-empt causality or causality violations. Within a given universe, causality still applies. Even if one can shift one’s existence to a parallel universe, one cannot circumvent causality.

        I’d advise first understanding the concepts of which you speak.

        Jus’ sayin’

        1. That’s not what David Deutsch says.

          *shrugs* I’m not a quantum physics so perhaps I misunderstood.

  3. Does he get to play a cool guitar solo and introduce rock and roll to the town?

    1. Hey, take a look at this guy’s life preserver! The dork thinks he’s gonna drown!

    2. Watch out. I bet in 2020 we’ll get a remake in which Marty goes back and introduces grunge to his high school.

      1. Oh, there you are. What is “the MRM”?

  4. “Sometimes those persons turn out to be former loopers who are sent back to be executed by their younger selves.”

    I presume a rationale for this is provided in the story, but why would you have a looper kill the old version of himself if there is another assassin available? It seems asking someone to commit delayed suicide is asking for trouble.

    1. The only explanation I can think of is that it prevents the old version from fighting back and killing his assassin.

      1. Under the sort of “old guy would vanish” time travel that they’re using, instead of the “alternate timeline” type time travel.

        1. That kind of makes sense, except the victim should not be in a very good position to fight back in the first place, which still makes the weak link the looper’s willingness to kill himself.

    2. Just because you kill yourself in the now does not mean you will be killed by yourself in the future.

      So if you kill your old self and retire it can be assumed that you will then lead a different life then you would have otherwise and never get in the situation in the first place.

      Basically you would be killing the bad version of yourself.

  5. The commercial for this looked terrible. If I see it on your advice and it sucks, I expect you to vote for Romney to make up for it.

    1. I’d rather jump into a fire.

  6. I’ll probably go check it out. Wife and I went to see End of Watch last weekend. Mainly because she wanted to see something and we were already by the theater and that’s what was starting. There were some really good scenes (some not all that plausable like the cop who takes off his gun and badge to fight some mouthy punk when we all know he and his parner would beat him to a pulp, and then the punk gives him all this respect for doing it “g style”).The acting was pretty good I thought, but the movie lacked cohesion and it seemed fairly pointless after it was over. Also, other than the two main characters, most of the other characters were pretty weak and undeveloped.

    1. You should have seen Dredd 3D

  7. “Looper” is a rarity: a slick, neatly conceived high-concept thriller with a few too many interesting ideas.

    You don’t know what you want.

  8. As with most “serious” movies that use time travel as a plot device, this film looks terrible.

  9. Somebody just greenlight Palimpsest already, instead of this shit. I didn’t understand what was going on there, either, but I thought nevertheless that it was fairly well written.

    Thanks for the spoilers, Fluffy; $15 saved.

  10. Camden, NJ kicking police force to the curb in favor of a non-union squad.

    The police acknowledge that they have all but ceded these streets to crime, with murders on track to break records this year. And now, in a desperate move to regain control, city officials are planning to disband the Police Department.

    The reason, officials say, is that generous union contracts have made it financially impossible to keep enough officers on the street. So in November, Camden, which has already had substantial police layoffs, will begin terminating the remaining 273 officers and give control to a new county force. The move, officials say, will free up millions to hire a larger, nonunionized force of 400 officers to safeguard the city, which is also the nation’s poorest.

    Hardly a political battle of the last several years has been fiercer than the one over the fate of public sector unions. But Camden’s decision to remake perhaps the most essential public service for a city riven by crime underscores how communities are taking previously unimaginable steps to get out from under union obligations that built up over generations.

    Though it seems like a good move for the taxpayers of Camden, why not just go private rather than a non-union force?

    1. Wait a minute, something’s wrong here.

      New Jersey has some of the most prohibitive firearm’s laws in the nation, I was told that there should be no crime whatsoever. And that the high pay and benefits that unions afford the brave men and women in blue make for a superior police force.

      *feels lied to*

      sadface

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.