Time-travel movies are faced with an inherent problem. Due to their nature, they are susceptible to gaping plot holes. It’s hard not to sit through them thinking things like, “HOLD ON. If he’s doing that now then wouldn’t that mean his future self wouldn’t have been there in the first place in order to come back and… ooh, I’ve gone giddy.” Well, I spent most of Looper doing this, for which I feel like an idiot because all the while I was trying to work out the plausibility of a time-travel movie ( I mean, come on man, for God’s sake!), I could have been immersing myself in the exciting, well-paced action within.
The story is thus. In the future, time travel will be invented – but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they send their target 30 years into the past, where a “looper” – a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – is waiting to do the business. Joe is getting rich and life is good until the day the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.
Whereas Inception brilliantly demanded the audience kept up with every plot twist and turn or risked ending up completely lost, I think the opposite can be said of Looper. That’s not a criticism, by the way. It’s not a dumb film. Far from it, in fact. However, to fully enjoy it you simply have to accept that it is intelligently pieced together and not spend the whole time trying to work out if the whole thing actually works. Myself and a fellow critic spent an hour in the pub afterwards drawing diagrams (“it’s all about the timelines”, he insisted) and came away more confused than when we started.
Ultimately, Looper offers a very entertaining two hours. It paints an interestingly grim picture of the near future and intersperses it with a few laughs and some good chemistry between Willis and Gordon Levitt. Emily Blunt is as divine as ever too in what is unquestionably one of the blockbusters of the year so far. And any movie that can provoke an hour-long discussion in the pub afterwards is alright by me.
Review by Bobby Townsend