Philip French of The Observer thinks: “It’s one of those pictures that courts the adjective “thoughtful” but doesn’t stand up to much thinking about.” I get the impression that a lot of reviewers – apart from whoever wrote Total Film’s review – think along the same lines as Philip French. I’ve met Philip and respect his opinions greatly so I’m not here to argue with them but I do think that Looper is worth thinking about just a little more.
***For anyone worried, this review is entirely spoiler-free.***
Looper isn’t a film that needs to be thought about to be enjoyed. It won’t cause film-producers any consternation or sleepless nights. It does exactly what you’d think it would do with that poster. There are guns and they go off. There’s Bruce Willis, he goes off the chain. Things get shot, people explode – you know, the usual. It’s fun in the way that you expect future-set action-films to be fun.
No thought necessary. It’s not aiming to be art-house. That part I can agree with, sure…
And yet, if you ask a little more about the necessity of Emily Blunt‘s role and its place in the history of time-travel sci-fi films, you get a little more thought-soup for your money because I still think that Rian Johnson wants to give you a great, well-shot ride and a question: how is it men get so lost?
I think Rian Johnson wears his film-heart on his sleeve with Looper and shows a love for Terminator and Terminator 2. Like Sarah Connor in Terminator, we have Emily Blunt’s Sara in Looper. Both are mothers to men who are set to change the future and both want to change the future they’ve been told about.
I still think that Johnson has taken the Grandfather Paradox, stripped away the actual time travel physics, and made it explicitly about fathers but I now think that he’s concerned with a lack thereof. Even though there are many great action films concerned with how men interact and what a machismo, isolationist sphere does to a man, the action film genre isn’t known for its subtleties or concerning itself with men’s feelings – especially toward their mothers and a lack of a father.
At the heart of Looper is the simplest but the most gut-wrenching of questions: what happens to us when we’ve no one to care for us?
Not a grandstand of thematic film-making but a very well shot, pacy piece with a simple thought at its heart.