Well that was quite the movie. Its strong and weak aspects are really pulling at me here as I try to form an overall opinion. So lets start off by talking about why this movie is great. Then I can talk about why its not.
It takes balls to tackle a serious time travel story, since its a formula which is ripe for plotholes. But Looper does a pretty good job in keeping the overhanging science fiction ideas in place. The sci-fi aspect to this movie is pretty solid and very engaging. The film is set in 2044. Time Travel hasn’t been invented yet, but they know that it will be in the future. Crime syndicates use this idea to dispose of bodies in the past by employing people like Joe, played by both Joseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis.
Both Levitt and Willis are great here. Lots is being said about the prosthetics used on Levitt to make him a younger Willis, and I thought I would be distracted by it but I ended up appreciating it. This appreciation may also come from how Levitt is actually able to become a younger Willis through his mannerisms and line delivery as well.
The time travel plot has quite a few layers to it and the idea of having two versions of the same person living in the same time allows for some really neat ideas, such as torturing one and affecting the other, or new memories appearing to old Joe as they happen to new Joe. This futuristic world is well-constructed in its ideas. In fact, the film’s high concept is enough to shoot it into the annals of great science fiction films.
What prevents the movie from rising so high however is its lack of focus. This movie is not very cohesive and by the time we reach the second half, its really all over the map, like a patchwork of sci-fi clutter.
Suddenly, what started off as being important isn’t any more, and a small detail from the world set-up has now become the primary plot driver. Instead of being about the two Joe’s suddenly its about this kid. Instead of feeling sympathetic for old Joe, suddenly we can`t any more because he does something unforgivable. And the ending is left far too open, and not in a good way like in Inception.
Its unconventional in the direction the plot takes, but it also feels like threads unravelling a bit. Yet perhaps time itself will prove me wrong, and this movie will endure as one of the great sci-fi films of this decade. We shall see. A very good film, but I’m not convinced of its greatness just yet.