Time travel is a tough nut to crack. It’s an idea that’s full of possibilities but it also has major pitfalls, not least of which are the endless paradoxes and logic knots that time travel films can tie themselves up in. Although Looper doesn’t completely resolve these problems, its gets closer than any film since Twelve Monkeys and presents a reality that’s actually pretty close to how some quantum physicists think time travel could actually work.
Indeed as Twelve Monkeys and Looper both feature Bruce Willis, perhaps all prospective time travel movies need to be given the Brucey seal of approval before they go into production.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Joe, a young guy in the near-future who works as a Looper. While time travel hasn’t been invented during the time Joe is living, in his future it has, allowing people to be sent 30 years back to where Joe is waiting for them. He works for a criminal organisation that sends people into the past so that Joe can kill them and then dispose of the bodies, which ensures there’s no evidence of the crime in the future.
However there’s a new boss in the future who’s closing down the loops – sending the older versions of the assassins back to the past to be killed. However when old Joe (Bruce Willis) turns up, young Joe fails to kill him. That’s not good enough for the people he works for, who set out to hunt down both versions of Joe down and dispose of them – as if they can kill young Joe, old Joe with disappear too.
The chase leads the younger Joe to a farm run by young mother Sara (Emily Blunt) and her rather special son (Pierce Gagnon). I would tell you more, but it all get a bit too complicated when you write is down, even though it makes sense when you’re watching the film.
Genuinely smart sci-fi is a rare beast, and although Looper shouldn’t be placed at the genius level that some reviews have ascribed to it, it’s shrewd, intelligent, well thought out and incredibly entertaining. Rian Johnson’s film never forgets that you can be as clever as you like, but that doesn’t amount to much if the plot fails to keep you gripped. Looper certainly manages that, hooking you in with a fast pace, great characters, multi-layered plot and a premise that keeps you both guessing and thinking.
That’s allied to something that’s equally rare as smart sci-fi, which is a fully realised, completely cohesive creation of the future. Looper’s world is wonderfully convincing – close enough to our reality to feel familiar, but with everything tweaked and moved forward in a way that feels organic and complete.
With some great action scenes, well-written dialogue and some very good performances, it really is the full package. Although some earlier reviews went a bit too far in treating it as the second coming of Jesus of film, it is a very good movie that’ll keep you thinking long after the credits role.
Blu-ray is a great way to watch it, as the format really shows off Johnson’s wonderful visual inventiveness, both in terms of creating the future and telling the story. The picture clarity is absolutely excellent, with a crisp, sharp image and nice handling of colour –something that is particularly important in the night-time scenes, which display a nice range of blacks. Likewise the audio is good, although there are moments when they could have done with turning up the volume of the dialogue compared to the sound effects (which is an issue to do with taking a surround track mixed for cinema and porting it across unaltered to the home).
As you might have hoped, there’s also a pretty good selection of special features. Rian Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt are on-hand for an entertaining and informative audio commentary, filled with plenty of behind-the-scenes info. There’s a good selection of featurettes as well. Although they sometimes use the same footage (for example two featurettes include exactly the same footage and interviews about the prosthetics used to make Joseph Gordon-Levitt look more like a younger Bruce Willis) there’s a lot of interesting info, such as the rules of Looper that Rian Johnson set up to ensure the film didn’t fall into the sort of time-travel traps so many other movies do.
‘The Science Of Time Travel’ includes a chat with a physicist, who talks about the possibilities of time travel, such as the fact that while travelling back in time would be fiendishly difficult, there’s nothing in the laws of physics to preclude it. While deleted scenes are often a waste of time, here they’re well worth a look, particularly with the commentary on, as Rian Johnson does a good job of explaining why they were included in the script but were eventually seen as unnecessary. It’s a good selection of features you’ll certainly want to take a look through after the entertaining and thought-provoking film.
Overall Verdict: A great package for one of the smartest and most entertaining time travel movies in a long time.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac