10 Things You Should Know About Looper – With a Few Spoilers!


Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Looper"Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Looper"

Photo by Alan Markfield | Copyright 2012, Looper, LLC. | Used with permission.

SPOILER WARNING: I may let some things slip that you’d prefer not to know.

1. Should I bring the kids?

No, probably not. You’ll certainly want to leave your younger geek kids at home for this one. Along with language and violence, there’s heavy drug use and a bit of toplessness in the movie too — this is not gratuitous nudity, but more than most teens would like to see while sitting next to a parent. This gets an ‘R’ rating for good reason. Consider it a nice excuse to go out on a date with your spouse, if your spouse is OK with seeing this sort of film on a date.

2. What is a “looper?”

A looper is not a crazy hoverbike move or reality bending drug (at least not in this movie). When the mob of the future wants to kill someone, they use black-market time travel technology to send the victim into the past where they can be killed and covered up with no trace (assuming all goes well in the past). The guys pulling the triggers in the past are the loopers. This is about a looper named Joe.

Looper movie posterLooper movie poster

3. Is this a mob movie, a sci-fi film, or an action flick?

The mob elements aren’t strong, though they are part of the premise: the mob uses time travel to off people without leaving a body trail. While there certainly is a lot of action, it is built around central story elements. If you’re just looking for a string of mindless explosions, this isn’t the place for you. If you can’t wrap your mind around a guy being sent back to be killed by his younger self, you shouldn’t be in the theater.

4. Wait, they play the same guy??

Yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a younger version of Bruce Willis’s character, Joe (or vice-versa). It took three hours of makeup and some great character building to get Gordon-Levitt to look enough like Willis that the two can sit across a table from each other believably without CG assistance. It works. Move along.

5. How is the time-travel tech?

Looper is about time travel. (OKAY, Looper is about characters and it happens to have some time travel in it.) Do they use a fusion-powered DeLorean? Spinning ring of alien origin? Does Bruce Willis arrive naked? (NO!) According to production designer Ed Verreaux,

“We went for a retro, simplified, down-and-dirty look. The important thing is to get across the idea that the time machine works – beyond that, it’s more important to focus on the narrative of the movie.”

It looks good enough to pass without being over stylized to the point of asking “Wait, what would that part even do?” when you see it. They even put it near a electric sub-station so it has a plausible power supply!

6. Seriously, how is the time travel handled?

I was surprised to see how much they dealt with causality, multiple timelines, and the effect of tampering with the past. It could have just been a special effects gimmick to get the action started, but it wasn’t. It is much more Quantum Leap than Terminator (but having neither a hologram nor cyborg).

7. Any sweet future tech trend we might see copied other places?

Not likely. Most of the tech of the future is recycled or retrofitted tech of the present. Verreaux designed it to look fairly familiar for a reason; “It’s a future where things didn’t go well – the economy fell apart, major manufacturing stopped.” Think Mad Max instead of Tron: Legacy.

Photo credit: Alan Markfield | Copyright 2012, Looper, LLC. All rights reserved. | Used with permission.

8. Nothing awesome in the future? Really??

They do have a completely implausible jet-powered “bike” that gets some use. And there is a rocket-powered crop duster. (YES, I know that is even less plausible than a jet bike.)

While there is some talk of “TK” in the movie, Jean Grey may have given us an unrealistic expectation for telekinesis. It would be dangerous to have a population that could do more than neat bar tricks anyways, right?

9. What is the geekiest moment in the movie?

After insisting he’s not going to discuss time travel, old Joe (Bruce Willis) explains shifts in his memory: the 30 years between now (movie timeline present day) and when he is sent back in time are becoming fuzzy. His memory is a potential space of all the possible futures he might have lived now that he’s disrupted the timeline. As soon as something happens to the younger “Joe” he can remember it, but details of future events are a blur.

10. Should you see it?

Yes. While Looper isn’t part of a larger universe or the result of a billion-dollar CGI budget, it is a good movie. It feels like a short sci-fi story brought to life. You won’t be forming fan clubs for characters any time soon, but I’ll bet you’d stop and watch it again if you flipped past it on TV next year. I would.

Looper opens today in theaters, and is rated ‘R’ for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content.

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