The subject of time travel has attracted me since I was a kid. Funny enough, my first exposure to it was Disney’s ‘disnification’ of the Charles Dicken’s classic, A Christmas Carol named Mickey’s Christmas Carol. This adaptation was given a more lighthearted approach, but one thing that stayed the same was the death of Tiny Tim. When I saw Mickey say goodbye to his son with glassy, tear-filled eyes, it broke my little heart. It still breaks my heart. So I was happy to see Scrooge change his ways. My next brush with time travel was 1984’s The Terminator. The idea of an unstoppable killing machine that can travel through time to kill you had me piss scared. As you can see, my dear parents didn’t have a problem exposing me to multiple acts of violence and coarse language — but you throw in some Linda-Hamilton-boobies and now we have a problem. If you could sit in that room (in 1985) you’d see two adults watching the conception of humanity’s hope against the machines and a small boy with a sheet over him looking like a covered piece of expensive furniture that belongs in an old English manor.
But that’s neither here nor there. You’re here to read about Looper. Before I give you my thoughts on the film, let’s see the trailer again.
Intriguing as hell, right? Luckily, the producers of the movie did something unheard of today; they created a trailer that teases the main conflict, but doesn’t spoil the movie. You know that Young Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and Old Joe (Bruce Willis) are at odds. They don’t tell you why and the why is the reason to see this movie.
Old Joe needs to save his wife and in order to do so he needs to kill a child who will one day take over the mobs and shut down the Loopers. Young Joe needs to stop Old Joe to get his life back; a completely selfish act, but one that leads him to meet Sara (Emily Blunt) and Cid (Pierce Gagnon), her five-year old son. What once was a mission to get his life back on track is now a mission to save Sara and Cid from Old Joe. The story deals with themes of sacrifice, redemption and love. Love in the sense that it is something to be preserved and protected no matter what the cost. Often times, time travel requires that sci-fi laws be defined very specifically, but Looper says you don’t have to know it perfectly to know that something needs to be changed. The time travel logic can be debated (and it already is) but the script is so tight and confident that you buy it.
The performances are stellar. Levitt is an extremely talented actor who keeps picking solid roles. His approach to being Bruce Willis is so subtle you get lost in the performance. There are moments you believe that Willis’s pursuit to save his wife is taking a toll on his soul. Emily Blunt, who I love, is strong and full of moxie (always wanted to use that word) but when she let’s her guard down you see a lonely woman whose act of redemption is weighing heavily on her resolve. Cid is played by an amazing little actor named Pierce Gagnon, who gives an amazing performance full of sweet moments and down right shocking ones. His subtle facial reactions had me raising an eye brow or two. The third act of this movie depended on his performance and he nailed it.
What makes Looper special is that it’s a sci-fi movie that relies on its characters and performances, not visual effects and action. The story has action, but it weaves in slow moments to enjoy the character development. Much like Frequency, The Butterfly Effect, The Time Machine, and Donnie Darko, this movie works because you can relate to wanting to make things right. Who hasn’t made a mistake or wanted to go back in time and fix it? We all have, but Looper poses the question — what if your younger self didn’t want to fix it?
So what did you think of the movie? Did you like it, love it, hate it? If you hated it, why? If you loved it, what specifically did you love about it? Do you have time travel movie faves of your own? Share them in the comments section and let us know if you’d like to see more movie reviews like this. Thanks for reading!
About the Contributor
Dennis Salvatier is a designer and illustrator in Southern California and independently runs Salvatier Studios (salvatierstudios.com). A creative services studio specializing in logo design and illustration. He also stays busy doing his personal illustrations and making live appearances as tanoshiboy (tanoshiboy.com). Please stop by his sites and say hello!