Thursday, December 13, 2012

Looper

I'm not entirely sure where to start on a review of Looper. As somebody who is a big fan of Doctor Who, you would think that I really enjoy time travel stories but they actually make me cranky. I tend to avoid them, it's only because Doctor Who is that good that I even bother. Otherwise I spend too much time trying to make them work and let's be honest, they rarely do. My time travel exceptions also include Connie Willis novels, because she's such a good novelist that she actually has sensible rules that make sense to me.

But I'm off on a tangent, which is what time travel stories are usually about, tangents. Which is the problem. Which is why I actually really liked Looper, because it decided to just drop all the pretenses and just be a STORY.

I can't tell you how happy I am with that. Too often, time travel stories are just a bunch of people standing around talking about things they all are perfectly aware of, usually the rules of time travel in this particular universe. It always takes the form of the "Well, as you know" lecture and it's not just boring, it's tired, and it opens up all the plot holes and problems for display. Listen, Looper has it's share of plot holes that you end up thinking of in the car on the way home, trust me. But they don't spend so much time trying to make the rules work in the movie that you're thinking about it while you're watching. Heck, at one point when somebody tries to ask a question they dismiss it by saying that it's all too confusing anyway.

Because it is. Listen, in every aspect of filmmaking right now you can see a battle for artists to retain the art of storytelling and other people trying to shunt the story to the side for whatever else they think will make things more successful. The answer to what makes a good movie is easy, it always has been, it's storytelling. It's not setting, it's not name actors, it's not special effects. All of those need to serve good storytelling and without it, then it might be an enjoyable movie but it will never be a GOOD one.

Looper cares about story and storytelling, and that made me enjoy it. It's about relationships, not fight scenes. The setting, the time travel, it's all secondary to the way these characters are interacting and how their interactions steer their choices and their futures. That's what makes it work, and why it doesn't matter that nowhere in the actual film do they state outright that the time travel only works one specific way.

It can only go exactly 30 years into the past, that's it, no finite control. That's never stated in the film, it's just something the writers and director knew as they made the movie and that the director has said in multiple interviews that you can easily find if it matters to you when you're driving home. But that information is known to all the characters, they don't need to talk about it and they don't need to question it except to make people in the back of the theater shut up.

I realize I've said almost nothing about the actual plot of Looper, but you get everything you could need to know from the trailer, and then it actually goes to some unexpected places and I enjoyed it more because I didn't know too much about it going in, so I thought I'd let other people be similarly unenlightened. What you really need to know is that Bruce Willis is amazing as always, and the acting is good all around. The visuals are thought out and serve the story and in general everything that the filmmakers did just served to make the story better, which is as it should be.

But a quick tip - don't go to the IMDB message boards after you watch it. The people there were not at all paying attention during the actual film and make a lot of very stupid assumptions. If you're going to see Looper, and you should, pay attention. It's a movie that deserves for you to actually pay attention for once.

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