Movie Review: Looper

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-star as the same character at different points in time in an excessive display of bad moviemaking called Looper, a dull yet campy mixture of The Bad Seed, Blade Runner, Road Warrior-type pictures and The Terminator, complete with a tough, single mother character named Sarah. The only thing missing is Tina Turner’s Auntie Entity.

The time travel-themed Looper is an endless, pointless loop, one infinite loop without an Apple at its core. Its characters, plots and subplots, threads and circles keep piling up, running out of juice, re-appearing and coming out of nothing until the whole plodding affair, which is periodically and predictably filled with loud pops and action scenes, just goes pfftt. It’s purely a gimmick and contrivance with nothing meaningful in play. There is plenty of play, though with long stretches of confusing titles, narration and scenes, bad dialogue and quick-cut action. Things get interesting when Willis (Die Hard) and Gordon-Levitt (Dark Knight Rises) encounter a single mother-farmer and her child in 2044 Kansas. Emily Blunt (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) as the earnest farmer is the best thing about this turkey.

The world in this dystopian movie resembles rotted-out East Germany, albeit with towering skyscrapers, but we never learn why or what happened – was Obama re-elected? – only that time travel has been prohibited by the state, gangs rule the country and some people have special powers. Assassins called loopers, assigned to execute time travelers, drive around in dusty Miatas and Ford and Chevy pickup trucks with attachments and they walk around toting kick-ass sawed-off shotguns blowing people’s brains out with abandon. But this strange, backward world of the future makes no sense with characters – including a good girl/whore dichotomy – that are never developed. Gordon-Levitt acts pained and is fine in the role, Blunt does what she can and Willis lowers his voice, swears and does his Die Hard act and none leave a lasting impression. The child steals the show, such as it is, with a plot twist that’s best described as hilarious; the surprises exist to shock and the puzzlement has no real purpose, so it’s impossible to take it seriously. In fact, I laughed so much during this movie that my stomach hurt. So did my filmmaker guest and neither of us could track what the heck was happening to whom. Looper, which also co-stars Jeff Daniels, who co-starred with Gordon-Levitt in The Lookout (2007), is just plain loopy.

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