So I Finally Saw Looper

So after a lot of posting on here about how excited I was for Looper (See, e.g., here, here, or here), I’m surprised it took me this long to actually see it. I don’t know if this is a result of my disappointment in Prometheus, a busy schedule, or what. But I finally saw it.

And I liked it. It was beautifully shot, and both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis were very good–as were many of the other actors in the cast, including Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, and Pierce Gagnon. I think Rian Johnson wrote and shot a smart, sharp, and deep movie. I mean, the moment I mentioned time travel and hitmen to my wife, her eyes glazed over. There is plenty that could go wrong in a story like this.

But I think Johnson avoided many of those traps, and he succeeded in making something tense, beautiful, and striking. There is definitely more to Looper than blunderbusses and time travel. It’s gritty and dark, and the characters are not bad guy hitmen caricatures. I think audience members will be surprised to find out just what the characters are willing to do in response to their motivations. The worldbuilding was nicely done too. There is a grit and edge to this sad, near-future world.

But I didn’t walk out of the theater loving this movie. Even in a movie about time travel paradoxes, there are some things that make for unclear and somewhat confusing moments. I would like to re-watch the film, but I don’t know if that would resolve the problems. The pieces of this film didn’t quite seem to mesh together in my mind–like gears missing a couple of teeth. The urban vs. rural halves of the film, what can and cannot affect the future-self, etc. This movie throws a lot at you, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was used to keep me from looking too deeply at the questions presented–as if I’d discover the mirrors and wires behind the magic trick.

But, in the days since watching the movie, the more I thought about Looper, the more I think Johnson may have done this intentionally. It’s as if he wanted some rough edges and sharp corners in his movie. As if he wants to keep his audience on edge, unsettled. I was impressed with where Johnson took his characters. There were some shocking moments. It’s unsettling, and it keeps this movie in your mind. You’re unable to brush it off immediately. You keep analyzing it and asking questions about it. I can understand why Charlie Jane Anders of compared Looper to Drive and Moon.

And that’s when I realized how few movies have that kind of sticking power. It’s an odd film, but definitely worth seeing.

What did you think? Leave a comment below, clearly marking spoilers, please.

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