opening a new loop to time travel Rating: ****
Science fiction and time travel have been literary and cinematic bosom buddies
forever. Difficult it is then to find a new `loop` into the marriage of the two.
Yet at times some intrepid filmmakers do find a new tale to the old twist.
"Looper" takes past ideas on time travel but makes a package
interesting enough to reinvigorate science fiction cinema. And time travel.
In 2074, time travel has been invented but outlawed. It is used in the black
market by those who find it hard to kill people and dispose bodies due to
advanced tagging technology. They send victims back in 2044 where assassins
called Loopers kill people. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one such hit-man in
One day Joe gets his own future, older self (Bruce Wills) to kill. A moment`s
hesitation leads the older Joe to escape thus creating a change in the present
and thus the future. In trying to close the loop, with his employers chasing
both him and his older self, he discovers something bigger than himself.
"Looper" is an extremely nuanced film that has multiple things working
First is the element of science fiction. The loops in the story tangle your mind
only for the film to very deftly and logically - that is, if you are watching
closely - untangle all the elements.
It takes elements from many science fiction films, be it the classic
"Terminator" series - essentially the story of an assassin from the
future killing/protecting a child in the past - or the 2007 French film
"Time Crimes", which is again about the loop of crime created because
of accidental time travel.
You can watch the film multiple times and unravel something new each time.
Secondly, it is an extremely well shot action thriller riding on a brilliantly
written script by director Rian Johnson himself.
At another level, "Looper" is a musing about lost childhood, about
kids who grow up without parents or grow up extremely poor and what and where it
leads them to. It is a poignant meditation on cause and effect, of what the poet
W.H. Auden said: "Those to whom evil is done do evil in return."
The film also excels technically. Be it the minimalist scenes of a near-future
world that blend in with the story instead of crying out for attention like in
badly made sci-fi films, or the background score of Nathan Johnson and
cinematography of Steve Yedlin.
Bruce Wills does what he does best. Yet, it is Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is a
revelation. Levitt has grown as an actor over the years, migrating from TV to
indie films to playing second fiddle in films like "Inception" and
"The Dark Knight Rises". Here he shines as a man on the run in fight
with his own older self. Of particular delight is his `attempted` impersonation
of Bruce Wills, which is both accurate and hilarious for fans of the ageing
It won`t be tough if the producers and directors want to make a sequel set in
the `Looper` universe. Another `cause and effect` story can easily be created,
that could tackle other problems, and time `loops`.