The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Looper | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Looper

Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan, Garrett Dillahunt

In 2044, Gordon-Levitt is a "looper", a hitman who disposes of victims sent back in time from thirty years in the future. His latest target however is his future self.
Like last year's "In Time", Johnson's film never lives up to it's brilliant premise but unlike that movie it does at least make a valiant attempt. The problem with time travel movies is that they usually feature plot-holes which play on your mind, thus making it difficult to immerse yourself in the narrative. Knowing this, I decided to give "Looper" a free pass, swearing I wouldn't let any little plot inconsistencies ruin my enjoyment. Unfortunately this is easier said than done.
What made the "Back to the Future" and "Terminator" movies work was their breakneck pacing. You were never afforded the opportunity for your brain to start thinking things through. At two hours long, "Looper" gives you far too much down-time in it's less interesting second half and the plot-holes start eating away at you.
The movie's first half is riveting, Johnson creating a convincing neo-noir world on a relatively modest budget. Like his impressive debut "Brick", he injects a forties feel to proceedings. There are nods to noir classics like "Sunset Boulevard" and "On Dangerous Ground". It's after the introduction of Willis that things become problematic. The older and younger versions of the character find themselves at odds, both with different ideas on how things should play out. Johnson, acting as both writer and director, never creates a wholly convincing argument for either so you find yourself caring little for neither. It seems he's aware of this, wrapping things up cheaply with a crude piece of voice-over which instructs us where our allegiances should lie.
There are some great moments of visual story-telling; the body parts disappearing from the future version of a character as his past self is mutilated, and a Spielbergian moment involving a toy frog. Johnson certainly has the potential to become a very good film-maker but, like many wannabe auteurs of his generation, his ego seems to forbid him from enlisting the aid of an experienced screen-writer. Had he done so we potentially could have had one of the great time travel movies. Perhaps thirty years from now he'll realize his mistake.