"Sup, ladies. My car just took its top down, hint hint."
In the Future, Miatas are Cool
Okay, first things first, Looper is a really hard film to review. It’s nearly impossible to discuss in any meaningful way without spoiling the whole thing. I generally ignore the chicken little, virulently anti-spoiler, review-commenting H8RZ, and some films can’t really be spoiled – The Master, say, which is ninety percent mood and visuals. But with Looper, you spend most of the film collecting little story threads from different times and places in the hopes that at the end, you’ll be able to make yourself a nice soft logic quilt, and that the figure-eight, infinity loop of the plot universe will close unto itself with all cause and effect still intact, so that the little dudes on rollerblades can skate around it super fast. (That’s us, bro, rollerblading around the figure 8 of LIFE). And in Looper, like a Christopher Nolan movie, the what or why of an action happening onscreen is usually justified retroactively, rather than set up in advance. So to question a plot point’s importance or believability necessitates revealing its outcome and thus removing an element of suspense (which, even for a critic, is sort of a dick move). But beyond all talk of what I did or didn’t like or what subplots did or didn’t come together in the end, the biggest takeaway is this: Rian Johnson is trying to blow your mind, and this is important.
What we already know from the trailer: It’s 2044. Time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but in 30 years, it will have been. It’s outlawed, but controlled by criminal organizations (WHEN TIME TRAVEL IS OUTLAWED, ONLY THE OUTLAWS ETC ETC). When they want to kill someone, they send the victim back in time to 2044 to be dispatched by specialized assassins called loopers, whose only skill seems to be the ability to aim giant, one-shot shotguns called blunderbusses at people, and then go home to play with their future motorcycles and classic Mazda Miatas. One such looper, obviously, is Joseph Gordon-Levitt in weird makeup, who one day comes face to face with his future self, who is Bruce Willis (explaining the weird makeup). Except for being able to see his face, this is how the looper arrangement is supposed to work. They sign on for 30-year contracts, in the process killing their older selves and “closing the loop.” Thus, when JGL and future JGL encounter each other, the conflict is whether future JGL (Bruce Willis) can convince present JGL to sacrifice his comfortable present for the possibility of a longer future (“no, dude, seriously, it’s mega-cool here, you’re gonna love it!”). Conversely, JGL has to convince his older self to go quietly to his early grave so that he can keep the dub-step Miata gangbang going without complicating it with a bunch of mob dudes trying to kill him. We’ve all had similar hangover dreams starring the ghost of liver-health future, I’m sure.
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