So I didn’t watch Looper in the movie theater because, well, money and time got away from me. I regret not going now. Obviously, this isn’t my normal movie review. That’s because I was so impressed by this movie that, seriously, if you like science fiction it’s a must watch, and that’s all I can really say about it that isn’t OMG THIS MOVIE IS AMAZING over and over again.
Why? Because this is probably one of my favorite science fiction movies in the action/pulp fiction/Phillip K. Dick-ish style, and I haven’t enjoyed a scifi movie so completely since Bladerunner (which I watched two years ago. I know, I know, I’m behind).
How did it manage to be so awesome? What did this movie do right that a lot of others didn’t? Well…
1. The plot and writing was intelligent, and the action balanced it out
This is an action movie. There is blood and guts and Bruce Willis shooting people in the way Bruce Willis does best. But the plot itself is brilliant, and the dialogue is amazing. There’s a scene in a diner where Gordon-Levitt and Willis talk, and it’s amazing how alike they are (even though it’s weird seeing Gordon-Levitt looking so unlike himself because of the makeup).
There are a lot of themes going on that aren’t spoon fed to you, but at the same time there are romance arcs that are powerful and compelling (Emily Blunt is great in this movie, and her country accent was horrid either) and nitty gritty action scenes and dark, comedic moments typical in a lot of other movies. I don’t want to get into detail because I don’t want to give anything way.
In other words, the plot is relatable and yet unique enough in the science aspects to give the whole thing a fresh twist. This is mostly because…
2. The science behind time travel is solid: AKA there are rules
Time travel is a one-way trip. You just show up in the past at a specific place, date, and time, and you can’t go back. You can interact with your past self, and the movie takes advantage of that in some pretty unique ways. There’s this one scene involving a friend of Gordon-Levitt’s character, and I won’t explain more than that, but it’s dark, disturbing in this I can’t look away, I hope this never actually becomes possible, but my God this is an amazing possibility, type of way.
That might just me me, and I might have just shown how insane I am when I watch movies, but oh well.
So the science is there, the acting and the story together create this awesome movie, but it wouldn’t be nearly as amazing without the world. Which brings me to the last point.
3. It’s not some distant, clean future world
I think this takes place in Kansas, with some bits in Shanghai. Cars look like cars except with solar panels welded on to the hoods and some sort of fuel converter thing attached to the back. Everything’s dirty, with some exceptions. There’s a drug you take via eyedrops, jet motorcycle type things, I don’t know, the world is just grungy and dark, and it makes sense because the location is this sort of run-down city. Shanghai is pretty but still looks realistic. It’s not super clean and perfect, but there are some advanced-looking buildings poking out between the other, obviously older ones.
These are the things I took away as a writer and an avid movie enthusiast, and I’d like for my science fiction to do what Looper did. While the science in the story played a monumental role and was solid, no one went about explaining it too much, aside from laying down the main rules. They let the story be all about the characters, their dynamics, and their decisions, which were the most memorable parts anyway. So I guess that’s an unofficial fourth point.
Seriously, I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this movie sooner. Oh well.
Have you seen Looper? What’d you think?