Short Reviews: Looper (2012)


In the future, time travel has been invented but ruled illegal. It’s now only used by shady criminal organisations that only use it to send people they want eliminated back in time to be erased from the present and killed in the past.

Those who perform these executions are called “Loopers” and are paid well for their service, only with one exception: knowledge that eventually their time will be up and they too will be sent back in time to be executed; but until then, they go about their lives as usual – it’s made pretty clear that Loopers tend to be people who aren’t all that concerned with their future preservation.

Our resident Looper is Joe, a man who doesn’t care that he’s part of the system, because he’s worked it well. He’s biding his time until he’s saved up the money and language skills to move to France.

Things go slightly amiss when one day, Joe is confronted with a new man to kill – himself, aged 30 years. Old Joe gets the better on Young Joe and breaks free, and our plot is kicked into gear – only it goes to places you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Looper is a refreshingly different film, which like writer/director Rian Johnson’s earlier Brick (also superb) relies on tired conventions to be spun around for the audience. This is a good thing – from the trailers, you might have expected a movie that was playing it safe: an odd-couple-revolt-against-the-system sort of deal with some interesting sci-fi elements thrown in after the fact. This isn’t what the film turned out to be.

I loved this film’s open defiance to spend too much time weighed down by the logic of its time travel. For the naysayers out there, the film makes sense by its own logic, which means you don’t rely on stable time loops. Also, the film practically tells you not to get bogged down in the details and enjoy the ride – I did, and I enjoyed it a lot.

I loved the film’s use of cyclical themes; repeated imagery, motifs and shots, as well as seeing things one more time, but from another character’s perspective. It really drives home a sense of time folding back on itself and brings certain characters’ needs to change/control the future to the fore.

Also, and this may be a little spoilery, I loved that it very much wasn’t Old Joe and Young Joe team up to fight the system – I like that neither version of Joe was a good man. Villain Protagonists are always interesting when done well, and these guys are done very well.

If I must criticise something, I’ll say that the ending is too abrupt; the film has some pretty masterful usage of themes and motifs, so one would think it could have worked some foreshadowing in there. But I’m splitting hairs.

Looper is a new take on a tired convention, and it’s a damn good film because of it.


2 thoughts on “Short Reviews: Looper (2012)

    • I put if off for ages thinking it was going to be a disappointment. Its actually pretty similar to something like 12 Monkeys in terms of its tone. It’s really good though, you should definitely check it out.

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