Review: Looper (2012)

A highly imaginative if meandering bit of contemporary sci-fi, Rian Johnson’s Looper, at first glance, is about what you’ve already heard – hand-picked assassins called “Loopers” exist prior to a time when time travel’s been invented, offing selected targets sent back from when it has been, that is until one (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a moral epiphany regarding putting his own future self (Bruce Willis) six feet under. Ceasing to let the rabbit hole end there, Johnson’s script is littered with humanistic tendencies and subplots aplenty to cement its place among that of the admirably ambitious.

Thrusting its characters smack in the middle of tangible futuristic locales, Looper uses its setting to tell a story rather than carry it via a distracting Total Recall-esque aesthetic. Agreeably impressive visuals aside, the budding auteur’s learned from the best in filling this world with enough detail to engross even the most hardened of viewers, from occupational hazards and genetic mutation to plausible time travel logistics. To put things plainly, the film has all the makings of a science-fiction classic, although it’s sure to garner some detractors based on presentation.

Like I said, Looper ventures not-so-seamlessly from one plot point to the next, losing steam here and there despite an obvious adherence to authentic human emotion amid the obviously fictional. Even so, it’s appealingly violent and unapologetic, both toward its characters and steadfastness in reaching a wildly entertaining conclusion, even despite the balance issues bouncing back and forth between disparate, not at all similar settings presents.

All in all, when Looper shines, it really outdoes itself in terms of moderate complexity and the intelligence coinciding with it. Tending to focus more on authentic human emotion than the core plot mechanics, Johnson’s latest doesn’t entirely have its priorities in order, however that’s forgivable on account of the intermittent bouts of innovation looming around every corner. Stellar performances, above average if inconsistent technical prowess and dynamic characters benchmark this otherwise typical dystopian sci-fi thriller, ensuring you that Looper is, in fact, a very welcome addition to 2012’s hit-or-miss film canon.

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