Saturday, 20 October 2012

Musings on Looper

So I went to see 'Looper' last night and generally enjoyed it. I was expecting something more like Inception - heavy on the special effects and dramatic in scope and scale. However, it had a far darker and more sedate setting which reminded me of 'Cold Mountain' or 'Children of Men' as often as it engaged in the typical Hollywood fare of gun fights and stock characters.

Below are some, slightly spoiler-y, aspects of the film that I enjoyed:

1) Firearms - While it was an unexpectedly violent and sometimes disturbing film the use of guns was handled especially well. They were clearly restricted to criminal institutions and the occasional private owner rather than being as ubiquitous as they often are in dystopian and anarchic settings. When used they were extremely deadly. The target was usually blown away with a single shot and there was none of the usual lack of realism where protagonists continue to run around and fight despite multiple bullet wounds.

2) Suspension of Disbelief - Like the aforementioned Inception, the film expected you to accept one big unfamiliar idea that lacked plausibility. In Inception this was the technology that allowed intrusions into dreamer's minds while in Looper it was the use of time travel to dispose of criminal rivals. However, if you could stomach this the film's logic was largely consistent. While usually a stickler for logic in films I think this worked quite well and allows some real novelty in the creation of an interesting world and coherent scenarios.

But, to digress - were they seriously trying to tell us that time travel was the only conceivable way to kill people illegally in the future and that this was the only use that could be found for time travel? Or that if this was the case it would be used exclusively by criminals rather than by other institutions or individuals that saw utility in making people disappear? Despite mention of a future ban on the technology there wasn't even any indication that illicit use was strenuously policed.    

3) The Future - I liked how little information we were given about the future society from which the Loopers and Abe had come. This allows lots of speculation and prevented the setting from slowing down the movie. All we got was Abe's suggestion, reluctantly accepted by the older Joe, that China was a better destination than France and a few scattered details of the Rainmaker's criminal activities.

However, reading between the lines we can see that society must have undergone a big change from the dystopia of the 2040s. It seems unlikely that the disorganised society that the younger Joe lives in could have got its act together to invent time travel or to have instituted such strong restraints on the disposal of murdered bodies. However, the existence of the Looper system suggests that high levels of organised crime are common to both periods.

4) Time Travel - While others have criticised it, I enjoyed Looper's uncomplicated approach to paradox in time travel.The mechanics never got explained in detail and the film itself poked fun at the difficulties of understanding it but doing so made for an especially fast moving and fluid plot that could focus on characters (the kid's acting was brilliant and Gordon-Levitt put in a very strong performance) rather than getting lost in the complexities of a shifting timeline.

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