January 29, 2013

The Indie Time-Travel Movie Paradox

Looper is a time travel movie that really isn't about time travel. It is a sci-fi film that probably won't please hardcore sci-fi fans. It is marketed as an action film, but plays more like a drama. It is an in-between type movie with an interesting concept at its core but an execution that will struggle to please.

I am a fan of director Rian Johnson. I have been on board since Brick. The marketing for Looper told you there was something to do with time travel, but you couldn't figure out if it was a true sci-fi, or an all-out action movie. With Johnson I knew to expect something different, and I think he delivered on that.

There were interesting ideas in Looper, but they didn't come together for me. A man travels back in time and literally confronts his younger self… that is interesting stuff. However, old Joe didn't care about young Joe. He had to keep him alive so he would still have a future, but his primary goal was to eliminate a threat. But didn't traveling back in time take the risk of him changing the timeline so he would never even get to the future he was so desperately trying to save? The film introduces the time travelers paradox and then asks that you not think about it too much. Let it slide. The convoluted nature of it was distracting during the film, but not so much so that I couldn't enjoy what I was watching. But after it was over it left me wondering if it even made sense.

The best thing about Looper is that I legitimately had no clue how this film was going to turn out. I stopped even trying to figure it out, I just went along for the ride. It has been a while that a film had me completely stumped. I didn't even have an inkling of what was going to happen next.

The worst thing about Looper has nothing to do with the film itself1. It was the sound. The dialog was so quiet that I had to have it turned up kinda loud. When an action scene came along it blasted my eardrums. This makes it especially problematic when you are trying to watch the movie with a sleeping toddler in the house.

More than anything Looper caught me off-guard. It was a good film, but it wasn't what I was hoping for. I'm not even sure what that means, or if is a fair thing to say. There is a solid character arc in the film that for me got over-shadowed by time-travel mechanics. I think if I watched it again I would enjoy it more. My expectations would be set, and I might have a better shot at making sense of it all.

  1. The Joseph Gordon Levitt face prostheses were pretty bad, but not the worst.  ↩

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