Review: Looper (2012)

Looper’s review from the future

It’s the year 2044. No, I mean, literally it’s the year 2044 right now. While writing his review of Looper, my naïve but good-intentioned past self secretly hoped that his future self (which is my current self, at the moment) would write this review from the future. Time travel wasn’t invented back in 2012, but after aliens took over Earth in 2034 because the humans tried filming the 30th edition of Roadies on Mars, they introduced all these cool things like time travel, cloning, artificial intelligence, and err… weekly anal probes. (Don’t worry, the aliens aren’t all that bad – they look more or less like Lady Gaga, and they proved to us humans that they mean well by banishing Arnab Goswami to Venus). So, here I am!

Everything’s going great in 2044, Hollywood wise – after Leonardo Di Caprio shifted base to Mars because there were no more great directors left to work with, Joseph Gordon-Levitt firmly took over as Hollywood’s biggest star. In fact, after Looper became a worldwide hit, Rian Johnson became really famous too – and his recent gritty reboot of Robin Also Rises was both critically acclaimed and an inter-galactic hit. Of course, his success was helped when Christopher Nolan decided to give up the conventional way of making movies to start a live show where he’d inception movies into people’s minds directly.

As for Bruce Willis, he recently starred with his son and grandson (none of them being Ashton Kutcher) in Dying Hard Over and Over Again, aka Die Hard 31.0. So yes, that’s a yippie-ki-yay for you, fanboys: no one’s been able to dethrone Willis yet! Liam Neeson did come close in the 10s, but Taken 7, where he kidnaps himself, proved to be his undoing.

But enough on the state of affairs – let’s talk about Looper. The movie recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and saw a re-re-re-re-re-release in 14D (in which basically Bruce Willis’ hologram comes out of the screen and punches you in the face every now and then) and even all these years later, it remains one of the most genuinely futuristic, intelligent, unique and original movies of this century!

All of you must obviously be familiar with the story, since I distinctly remember that the word-of-mouth publicity (helped, ahem, by the superlatives lavished by my earlier, original version of the review) made Looper a sleeper hit in India at that time. But in case that hasn’t happened yet, here’s the lowdown: Looper is set in 2044, where mafia hitmen called Loopers assassinate people sent to them from 2074. Sometimes, they are also sent their own future selves 30 years into the future, and it’s necessary to kill them to “close your loop”, or else, because of the complexity of the space-time continuum, things could get really strange and the world could blow up in your face… or something to that effect.

Joe (Joseph-Gordonn Levitt) makes exactly the same mistake – when his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent to him to be disposed of, he lets him escape. And in the thrilling and unpredictable plot twists that follow, the world almost blows up in his face… or something to that effect.

One of the biggest reasons that Looper worked so convincingly was that it presented a complex but refreshingly original idea in the simplest manner, but not in one that insulted the viewer’s intelligence in any way (even though human intelligence in your time was like a quarter of what we have now, fyi).

The story did not deal so much with what would happen to the present if future Joe (Willis) stayed alive in the present, but the fact that it was really important for present Joe (Levitt) to kill him because future Joe had travelled back in time to do something horrible (I’m going to let you find out what that was). And more than the traditional science-fiction riddle, it was the moral implication of what future Joe wanted to accomplish that made the plot so gripping and terribly entertaining, which is quite a major achievement for a sci-fi film.

To use a cliché (because cliché’s have still not gone out of fashion), the film’s true hero was the script and after his mind-numbingly awesome but largely unknown debut with 2005’s indie college noir flick, Brick, Looper was the movie that rightfully catapulted writer-director Rian Johnson to superstardom. But keeping in tradition with the Academy’s disdain for the mainstream, the movie and Johnson missed out on the Oscars, although that would have been so very well-deserved, despite the fact that the movie dragged in a few places.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis did some of their best work in Looper, especially keeping in mind the tremendous effort the actors took to look, talk, act and behave exactly like each other’s past and future selves, respectively. But yes, as much as I fanboy-worship Levitt, I have to admit that he still couldn’t kick butt like Willis. And as history (aka your future) proves, no one can!

So there – I’ve laid out all past, present and (your) future evidence to convince you to watch the movie. You don’t need to be a sci-fi buff to love Looper, you just need to be a fan of great storytelling, although the sci-fi, action, comedy, suspense and horror can only help! Watch the movie right away, if possible, to get bragging rights to your friends that you saw it first – because this is all that people will be talking about for quite some time into the future.

And just in the interest of social service, here are some tips to help you have a good future: Keep the towels handy, and learn Mandarin. And oh, if you live in Mumbai, buy a few auto-rickshaws.

Note: This interview first appeared on on October 13, 2012
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.


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