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Film review: LOOPER from Built For Speed

Looper is a strange, inventive but ultimately underwhelming mix of Terminator, Blade Runner and Die Hard.

Looper posits the idea that about 60 years from now we will have discovered time travel but because of its inherent dangers, it will have been banned.  The only people who will use it will be criminal organisations who, because of bio tracking techniques, can’t dispose of bodies and have to send the victims back in time 30 years to be killed by assassins called Loopers.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays one of these Loopers who discovers that his latest victim is himself but 30 years older, played by Bruce Willis.  This presents him with a bizarre moral dilemma as to whether he can assassinate himself, the threat of execution if he doesn’t complete his assignment and the disturbing revelation that he will turn into Bruce Willis.

Looper is one of those films that some people will declare the greatest artistic achievement of the decade while others will wonder what the hell all the fuss is about. I’m in the latter camp. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this film, it’s just not the mind blowing experience the pre-release hype suggested.

It’s certainly impressive on a technical level with some remarkable special effects, particularly when the film introduces a sub-plot about telekinetic powers. The film also contains some stunning atmospheric shots and shows that director Rian Johnson, who gave us Brick and The Brothers Bloom, is evolving as a visual stylist.

The film is unfortunately slow moving at times, particularly when Gordon-Levitt holes up in a farm house that is rather conveniently owned by a stunning single mum played by Emily Blunt.  These scenes would have been fine if Gordon-Levitt’s character engaged us emotionally but he’s not very interesting and sails perilously close to Shia Le Boef territory.  Blunt, however, (who does a convincing American accent) is, as always, a dazzling screen presence.  Perhaps the most startling aspect of this film, though, is her child (Pierce Gagnon) who makes a fine addition to the creepy kid genre and throws tantrums that even super nanny couldn’t handle.

Like all time travel movies this one has that brain-twisting logic where current events effect the future which is now the present or something like that.  Bruce Willis even tells his younger self not to worry about the time travel logic because it would take too long to explain.

There is a possibility that this film will reward repeat viewings and reveal layers of meaning not immediately apparent first time around but on first viewing it was not the revelatory experience for which I had hoped.

Nick’s rating: 3 stars.

Classification: MA 15+

Director(s): Rian Johnson

Release date: 27th Sept 2012

Running time:  118 mins.

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