Films and TV shows centering on time travel are notoriously tricky affairs, dealing with the logic issues that can be brought up by characters shuffling through time often leads to a distraction that overpowers the film.
Other films and shows get around it in different ways; Back To The Future uses it to drive the plot, while Doctor Who puts things down to rather simplified phrase “Wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey” – Looper, however, overcomes this through a brilliant conversation between our ‘hero’ Joe and his older self where the older, played excellently by Bruce Willis, essentially instructs himself to not ask too many questions and, with that out the way, the film continues and never looks back.
Well that’s the time travel issue dealt with, onto the rest of the movie.
Looper is both a “proper sci-fi” movie and a “proper action” movie melded into one, but in a way unlike most of the sci-fi actioners coming out of Hollywood in that it doesn’t all culminate in a big fight between a bunch of computer generated robots/superheroes/creatures.
From the start we are dropped into a highly believable near future (2044 to be exact) where the US has undergone economic collapse and, at least the city we see, is in the clutches of organised crime with all those not associated with it in some way living on the streets.
In this future it seems everyone is armed with at least a shotgun and think nothing of shooting someone down in the street for stealing their luggage.
This future world is realised in fantastic style by director Rian Johnson, his production designer Ed Verreaux and artistic director James A Gelarden so, rather than something incomprehensible, we get a very familiar world with cars we see on the streets today, just battered and patched up, alongside a few hints that this isn’t today, such as one of the looper’s hover bike and the occasional air ship like vehicle hanging in the sky.
What I think makes this future world so beautifully realised is that, other than the parts essential to the plot, we are not mired in exposition about what’s going on. Beyond a brief introductory voiceover from Joe, we are left to see this world and find out about it through the visuals rather than clunky dialogue, which is a refreshing change for a relatively mainstream movie.
Away from the production design Looper also has a clear vision of what it is, another thing that blockbuster culture seems to have lost as it tries to appeal to the widest possible audience.
What we get here is a film that very obviously knows its sci-fi and its action, and specifically its Bruce Willis action movies, so we get nods and references to some classics, such as E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind alongside dialogue that seems written for a classic Willis tough guy character.
This tough guy character is highlighted through an astonishing, if at times unnerving, acting and make up job from and on Joseph Gordon-Levitt where he seems to channel Willis’ essence while still remaining his own self.
Plot wise the film certainly teeters on the edge of incredulous (even in terms of its own logic) and did leave me with the thought that their may be one unresolved plot hole caused by the time travel, but that is easily looked over as this is such a delight of a film that sucked me into its world and pulled me along with it on what is a well paced action movie with some nice sci-fi ideas and some interesting plot twists and turns that lead to a satisfying conclusion that left me with the notion that this was, in essence, one feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone (and I mean that in the best way possible).
And well, why not…