Freedom from Blog

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Brief Thoughts on Looper

Am I the last person to see this film? The best sci fi movie I've seen since Minority Report. I'm really surprised this didn't get more critical props here at the end of year awards orgy. It's an original take on an old and simple question: if you had a time machine, would you go back and kill Hitler? Except it's not actually Hitler, but instead some future Hitler. And the bigger question is what it would do to you to try.

There are dozens of ways they could have screwed this up, especially by following the usual cliches of sci fi noir. But there's a refreshing lightness here, setting much of the action in a farmhouse and corn field, as if this were Field of Dreams gone disastrously wrong. And the acting is impeccable, especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young "looper" (a hit man given the task of executing people sent back from the future so as to conceal all evidence of their deaths) who will eventually become the old Bruce Willis. Who would have thought JGL, most famous as the kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun, could have become the young Willis with so much tough guy cool and so few seams? I also loved the inversion of the Back To The Future rule about not meeting your "other" self during time travel. Let's just put them in a diner for a tense (and armed) conversation slash stand-off. Great identity questions here. If you met your future/past self, who would "you" be? And would you like yourself, or recognize a common interest? Are these two men the same people, or does time erode our identities and make us into entirely new people? Plus, it kicks ass as an action flick. All around, just loved this film.

Update: Forgot to mention, but Looper also comes across as something of a critique of Ayn Rand/Ron Paul. In the near recent future, when economic inequality has exploded, vagabonds wander begging through cities and cornfields, the government seems nonexistent, organized crime has become rampant, and everyone trades with gold and silver bullion that they horde rather than bank, the natural result is the rise of a bloodthirsty, mutant dictator. Sounds about right.


At 11:55 AM, Blogger fronesis said...

OK, I'll have to check out Looper. I've been avoiding sci fi movies since the whole world went crazy for Inception – a movie that I thought was one of the worst films I've ever watched. It made this huge move to be utterly oblique and obscure, and have that come across as deep, insightful, and smart. I'm still in shock that people that it was a great film. But it's not fair to avoid all future scifi because of that, so you will spur me to dip my toe back in the water.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Interesting! As it happens I was a bit disappointed with Inception as well, but I could never put my finger on why. Didn't hate it, just left feeling something was missing. The final descent into six stages (or whatever) of the subconscious--done as Matrix-like action sequence--actually had me checking my watch. Looper is much better, IMHO.


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