20 October 2012

Kanzler's Movie Review: Circling My Head on "Looper"

Image retrieved from "Man, I Love Films"

I don't usually post blogs on movie reviews, but I thought it's about time I started doing so with this cool film.

To say that Looper is a routine movie is way out of line. To say it pulled a Mind Screw like Inception effortlessly, however, would also be a bit off the mark. Looper is a film that, pun intended, would make your brain run in circles, which, at some points, leave you just confused.

Looper is a sci-fi movie set in 2044 with the protagonist Joe, played by Levitt, who's making a living as an assassin. There's a catch: He assassinates people from the future, who are brought back to his time via a time machine. It is when he is tasked to kill his future self (Bruce Willis) that things go loopy, so to speak.

(Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead, even if I still did many elements of the story out of my narration.)

Through a series of point-blank, no-nonsense flashbacks, Joe actually succeeds in killing his old self and gets the huge bounty for doing so - think of it as your separation pay after a long tenure. He grows old, falls in love, lives the high life (though of crime), knowing that after 30 years, he would be assassinated. When his time arrives, he objects to it, but still goes back to the past, albeit now with a different reason.

Image retrieved from http://tinribs27.wordpress.com

After a not-so-good first meeting, Old Joe tells Young Joe that there's this big boss in the future named "Rainmaker" who's pulling all the strings. As to how he's related to one of Grisham's characters is something I'd discover some other time. Anyhow... the big man now wants all the loopers killed. Old Joe went back to the past to kill the rainmaker when he's still a child. Young Joe tells Old Joe he doesn't care, and that the young must kill the old to get things back in order. Old Joe didn't take this too well. A fight ensues, and Young Joe (YJ from now on, same with Old Joe - OJ) discovers OJ's plan. YJ goes to protect OJ's child target.

The thing is, YJ developed some sort of attachment with the child, named Cyd (who's a telekinetic - another outlandish sci-fi ingredient) and his mother, Sara (played by Emily Blunt). They got er, really close, and this made YJ want to protect the child even more. Despite the fact that YJ discovered the child is indeed the future rainmaker, he still goes out of his way to guard the child from his older self, who finally arrives at the epicenter. OJ aims his gun at the child, the mom blocks the route of fire, OJ shoots nonetheless and ends up missing the target. The future is certain at that point.

Or is it?

Somewhere between this cascade, though, YJ sees through all the circles and discovers that he is Rainmaker's creator. This is one of the greats of this movie. The title itself is a subtle, invisible foreshadowing of the whole story. I only realized it till I walked out of the theater. You see, OJ's plan was to kill the child Rainmaker, right? But the mom wouldn't let him, so OJ kills the mom, making for a psychologically-unstable child with freaky telekinetic powers (Think of that music video of David Guetta's "Titanium") that'd pave the way for the development of the sadistic villain. Confused? This diagram of the film's timeline should help:

Image retrieved from Wired.com
(Click image to enlarge)

Another thing cool about this movie is how it pulled a Chekhov's Gun really well. It hinted nonchalantly of telekinetic people very early in the film. It turns out that power would have a great impact on the film's plot.

In all the spot-on acting, the brilliant writing of the plot, the movie lacked something. Somehow, somewhere, it made me lose my suspension of disbelieve. Perhaps it's the telekinesis thing? Perhaps it's the way the movie used time travel? I can't say for sure. It's something about how it toys with realism (or at least how realism should appear) and the fact that this stark manipulation is taken so... lightly, as if the radicalness of it all was non-existent.

Overall, the film sure got my head in circles. It's a great film, a very good mind screw movie that played all its cards right but somehow didn't win all the chips on the table. Still, not bad... not bad at all. If you want a watch that makes your brain tick, then Looper would certainly give you a run for your money.

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