Saturday, August 09, 2014

Looper (2012)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

WARNING:  I’m going to give away major details about the movie.  If you’re not into that sort of stuff, now’s the time to stop reading.

Time travel is one of those things that, when used in a movie, will either attract or repel people.  It’s almost like anime in that you either love it or hate it.  You either love to pick apart the physics and paradoxes or you don’t want to be bothered.  In the world of Looper, time travel has been invented sometime between 2044 and 2074.  It’s immediately outlawed, which means that it’s used only by outlaws.  Organized crime has taken over the technology, primarily because it’s nearly impossible to kill someone in 2074.  Their solution?  Send bodies back to 2044 to be killed and disposed of by loopers.  The targets are sent back with four bars of silver as payment.

The name comes from the fact that loopers will one day find a body with a crapload of gold instead of the usual silver.  This will be their future selves.  The looper has thus closed their own loop and has 30 years of retirement to enjoy before the mob comes knocking on their door.  Joe is a looper.  He waits at the same location for his targets until one day, his load of gold arrives.

There are several things keeping loopers from not closing their loop.  First off, the targets come with a hood that usually conceals their identities.   Second, loopers tend to shoot immediately, thus preventing someone from warning themselves or using any information to escape.  If someone does escape, the present version of the looper is captured and tortured in hopes of compelling the future version to come in.  (If you’re thinking of letting your small children watch this movie, they will get to see this in graphic detail.)

Another important aspect of life in 2044 are people with telekinetic abilities.  Most are at the parlor-trick level, able to make quarters float.  It’s not as impressive as they think it is.  There are a few with better abilities.  Of notable concern is someone called The Rainmaker.  It turns out that he’s taken over in 2074 and is closing all the loops, including Joe’s.

This leads to two timelines.  In one, Joe does his job and properly closes his loop.  In another, Joe is able to go back without his hood, thus causing his younger self to hesitate.  This give Old Joe time to escape.  He has information on who The Rainmaker is.  He’s able to narrow it down to three children who were all born on the same day in the same hospital.  Like The Terminator, Old Joe goes about hunting down all three children.

Young Joe is a bit more optimistic.  He hopes that killing The Rainmaker isn’t necessary.  In fact, it turns out that The Rainmaker may have gone bad after seeing his mother killed.  Erasing the traumatic event coupled with having a loving parent may be enough.  This is where the luck is a bit cliché.  Old Joe first targets the two children that aren’t The Rainmaker whereas Young Joe manages to rip off the piece of paper that happens to have the correct child.  Thus, he’s able to protect the child and his mother.

There are a few things that I got to thinking about and it’s not the good kind of thinking where the movie inspires all sorts of moral and/or physics questions.  Instead, it’s more about the story.  First, the mob gains control of a contraband technology and they use it solely for killing people?  Ok.  They say that going back isn’t so easy.  Isn’t that what cryogenics is for?  You could have a black-market tourism service.  You could also send back people to take advantage of the stock market.

There was also someone sent back to recruit loopers.  Couldn’t someone find this boss’s younger self and use that as leverage?  I don’t recall if it was mentioned.  It may have been one of those things that was mentioned in passing and I just missed it.  Still, I’d be worried that someone would figure it out.  Someone has to be thinking it.

I’d also get into the whole aspect of preventing Hitler from coming to power, but that’s sort of what this is about.  The Rainmaker supposedly takes on the whole mob without being seen and without any help at all.  The entire mob just ups and dies in a short span of time.  Joe comes to realize that this is not good.  At the very least, they killed his wife.  That has to be stopped.  The issue is how.  Do you just kill the person outright or do you attempt to work with them?

I also won’t go into the issue of time travel.  The physics aren’t really discussed.  If you try to think of all the paradoxes and science and stuff, you’ll go crazy.  I find that it’s better to focus on the story.  It was an interesting story, but not an amazing movie.  I had gotten this using a free code on Redbox.  (I was going to use the code on Total Recall, but I paid for it by accident.)  It’s one of those movies that I don’t mind having rented for free. 

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