In my reviews for Eyewear I try to discuss plot as little as possible. I strongly believe that the purest and most fulfilling experience had in the cinema is when the viewer has avoided as much media concerning the film as possible in this world of constant in-your-face advertising. To discuss Looper at all the following must be revealed; there’s time travel and there’s telekinesis, both of which are revealed right at the start. The latter feels extremely tacked on so that the plot structure works but (along with one flying motorcycle) feels out of place in what is a thoroughly realised and believable future.
Time travel is messy, and one could dissect the plot and raise logistics questions but Looper pushes this aside by moving along rapidly and entering human consciousness into the mix. I can’t claim to be a sci-fi expert outside of the medium of film, but at least in film this is a fairly unexplored formula. The dark experiments of memory and physicality concerning time travel conducted by characters are unique and result in a lot of answers to “what if” questions you probably hadn’t but wish you had considered. Alongside all this sci-fi excellence are a haunting depiction of age, young and old, and an elegant study on destiny.
The script is beautifully written and the combination of direction, cinematography and editing breaks away from boring Hollywood convention. The violence is graphic but kept on a leash – skipped straight to the aftermath, or even highlighted in one long take or in distorted slow motion if necessary. The camera work is effective, moving only when it adds to the atmosphere. The framing is composed to explore the comedic undertones and simultaneous harsh reality of such a gritty story. The weight of the dystopian setting is kept at a distance as not to dilute the finely crafted film but is paid enough attention as evident in the cinemagoers I heard talking tirelessly about the film.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play the same character, Joe, at different ages. Many don’t dwell on Bruce’s acting talents but this is a good example of his range and subtlety. I did wonder if there was some element of method acting when the two share the screen when Willis declares how strange it is to look into the eyes of his younger self; considering the eerie yet sweepingly realistic makeover teamed with Gordon-Levitt’s impeccable impersonation of Willis. The careful flash-forwards and flashbacks, the engaging montage sequence and a key exchange in a diner result in three-dimensional characters that could have otherwise been tough guys with cool guns. Emily Blunt as countryside farmer and mother, Sara, trying to avoid the polarized wealth of the city for the sake of her son is strong and compelling. None of the characters in this film are angelic and although there is a clear line drawn between the protagonists and antagonists, they’re all as enthralling as the other and right up to the startling conclusion I was itching to see all the paths play out and enjoy every moment en route.