Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Looper (2012) - Review

One bad Botox injection later...
Looper is one of those movies that everyone inexplicably fawned about for months.  Heralded as the Second Coming of sci-fi, millions of nerds everywhere required a change of pants when they saw two fan-favorites, JGL and Bruce Willis, together, playing the same character in a wacky time travel adventure.  But oh wait, that's not what the movie is about at all, is it?  No, it's actually some dull movie that takes place mostly at a farmhouse, wasting its solid casting (along with a couple other greats like Jeff Daniels, who is in maybe five minutes of the movie) on trite Destiny Vs. Free Will time loop fare.

The premise is actually really cool.  I don't really get it, but it's cool.  I don't understand why anyone would agree to be murdered X years in the future, nor why they would simply go along with it when they get taken, but whatever.  I can suspend my disbelief that far.  But the problem with the movie is that they really don't do anything with the concept.  They introduce all this stuff haphazardly at the beginning in an exposition dump, along with a bit about 2% of the world being psychic, which serves exactly one purpose in the movie.  The psychic thing is not only wildly out of place in this, but they take advantage of neither the time travel aspect, nor the telekinesis aspect.  It's really just a cliche thriller with vauge hints of sci-fi.

But here is the biggest strike against the movie: the antagonist is the only sympathetic character.  I love sympathetic bad guys; I think most movies should try to create one.  It certainly beats the typical villain who is after money or drugs or sex or evil-for-the-sake-of-being-evil.  But it definitely becomes a problem when you don't want the antagonist to lose.  He is painted in such a negative light in the movie, like he's this total psycho, when all I can think is that I would be doing the exact same thing.  Maybe that says something bad about me, but I can't help but feel sorry for the guy.
The face of sympathy with the bad hair to match
It doesn't help that the movie is quite sparse with action, prefering to let the cold and excruciating scenes of dialogue just linger in the air for extended lengths of time.  The first half of the movie is relatively decent, as it tends to focus more on the titular Loopers, but once the love interest and her kid show up for the second half (and the movie moves to tiny farmhouse in the middle of nowhere), the film turns fully into bad Lifetime movie of the week with a couple CGI action scenes spattered in.  To be fair, the action scenes are well directed and at times quite powerful, but it's just not enough to save the mess of a screenplay.

Sadly, this movie's potential is evident.  The scenes with Bruce Willis are moving, heartfelt, and totally human.  Unfortunately his screentime is limited, and we're left with a movie that has no idea what it wants to be.  It's certainly not the worst sci-fi, nor even a bad one, really, but it doesn't strike me as a movie that people should adore.  Especially nerdy film buffs.  Come on guys, I thought you had higher standards than that.

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