Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Paradox Closed or How A Review of Looper Turned into So Much More

Looper is good. You should go see it. It’s amazing to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young Bruce Willis. A strong performance by everyone involved. SPOILERS AHEAD

Looper Poster animatedLooper is the story of a Bruce Willified Joseph Gordon-Levitt trying to close his loop.

That is, he has to kill his future self and terminate his contract as a past-based hitman. The background for this is a little shaky. Something about how hard it is to dispose of a body in the future and how easy it is to do it in the past? Because we don’t have a hard time moving bodies now…it’s immaterial. Let it ride.

Joe (Gordon-Levitt and {later} Bruce Willis) has a plan [as they always do]. He’ll close his loop, cash in his gold/silver, and hightail it to a different country (France?) to live out the rest of his life. That is, the rest of his life until the loop closes. But old Joe-Bruce has a mission, too. He’s going to kill someone in the past to stop a horrific future.

Confused? Okay, it’s not really that hard. Especially while you’re watching it, but let me make it even simpler.

Looper is a less campy Terminator. And, if you can shelve working out plot inconsistencies vs. paradoxes, you can see why this movie needed to be made.

I enjoyed Terminator, LOVED Terminator 2, and giggled my way through Terminator 3. The first two films were a hallmark of their time. They showed us the potential of special effects, the future of cinema. They were the glimmer of a brighter future on the Hollywood horizon, not to mention well-crafted stories. When Terminator:Salvation came out, I didn’t see it. I had absolutely no interest in visiting that world.

“But, Kate. It took place in the future. It needed to be made!”

Not ignoring my dislike of Christian Bale as a key factor in my refusal, I want to make something clear. Terminator:Salvation is boring. Why? Because we already know what happens. It’s a time travel movie. And, when you start to build time travel movies into a franchise, you start to lose control of the narrative. (James Cameron didn’t quite put his stamp of approval on T3 and T:S)

Terminator

I will be back…again. And again. And possibly a third time.

This is not a challenge! I do not doubt that someone out there could do a splendid job with a series of time travel movies without tripping over themselves (Back to the Future played with paradoxes {and comedies never get the respect they deserve}). I’m just saying Terminator isn’t the franchise to do that with.

Before I hop too far down the bunny trail, back to Looper. While Looper replaces machines with mafia, the tropes still stand. But Looper isn’t bogged down by canon established by Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. It’s also the updated adventures in our understanding of time travel.

What does the world look like in the future? Where is our technology heading?

As you watch Looper (which you should; it’s great) you should take in the scenery. Look at the cars. Look at the ads. Look at the cell phones. Look at the weapons. Looper balances near future and further future. It’s nice to see something familiar. It isn’t apocalyptic. At least, not anymore apocalyptic than the ’20’s. Violence. China. Silver.

Looper takes the tropes and gives them a fresh spin, an important, updated spin for our time.

Looper shows us why we need to stop reinventing the wheel and move on to the hover car already.

Check it out.

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