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Monday, September 20, 2021

‘Looper’ Review

Original sci-fi film breaks tiresome ‘loop’ of Hollywood remakes

By ANDREW RUSSELL

Aggie Arts Writer

Looper is a rare, original treat in the age of cinematic autocannibalism. In particular, there is the tendency for the action/adventure and sci-fi flicks of recent years to resort to a Soylent-Green-style rehashing of dead material for popular consumption.

Remakes, sequels, prequels and requels have been taking up the majority, if not all of the box office fare for quite some time. Now that the 20-year nostalgia timer has gone off for the ‘90s, we are already seeing the beginnings of a new, tired cycle (Dredd and Total Recall point the way).

Then we have Looper, a movie that, although admittedly a genre film with countless familiar influences, is not afraid to wander off the trodden ground of series formula by 1) taking time to entertain some profound ideas and 2) mercifully tying up its loose ends instead of slapping on a standard here-comes-a-franchise ending.

The plot is built around the following scenario: In the year 2044, hit men called “loopers” are employed by mobsters to take out “trash” from the future. Because homicides have become too risky due to the advanced forensics of 2074, a victim must be kidnapped, placed in a time machine and sent back 30 years, where they will promptly be blown away at a designated spot by a looper.

Proceedings inevitably become tricky when a looper’s contract is ended; in the immediate exposition, we discover that, in order to retire, a looper must “close his own loop,” killing his older self and living out the rest of his life with a 30-year expiration date. This system is widely accepted, and most loopers have no qualms about committing “delayed” suicide if it means getting a golden paycheck, but one looper in question (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds that his older self (Bruce Willis) is inclined to disagree.

To thicken the plot, a genetic mutation has left 10 percent of the population with minor telekinetic abilities (it may only be said of this that every plot aspect, including this one, is eventually fleshed out).

The on-screen dynamics of Gordon-Levitt impressively channeling an older actor, along with a good dose of Willis’ classic “yippie-ki-yay” bad-assery, ensures that there is never dull moment, and the minor characters carry their own weight to boot.

Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) is memorable as Gordon-Levitt’s unlucky, histrionic co-worker, Emily Blunt (Young Victoria) is compelling as a 21st-century homesteader who finds Gordon-Levitt on her property when he’s on the run from his employers and there is a surprising standout performance from child actor Pierce Gagnon as the woman’s son, who may or may not play a larger part in the story.

Now, I will stand by the pun written in the sub-headline of this review: As a time travel film, Looper succeeds at forging a compelling plot full of repeating paradoxes even as it seems to go against a similar Hollywood tendency.

I would recommend Looper to any filmgoer who can appreciate the genuine buzz surrounding a well-made, exciting and, most importantly, novel movie experience.

4 out of 5 stars.

ANDREW RUSSELL can be reached at arts@theaggie.org. XXX

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