Looper is a time travel story. I'm a sucker for time travel stories. I'm a sucker, especially, for original time travel stories. Looper, unfortunately, isn't really one of them.
Well, it is. And it isn't. It's original in that there's a high-concept, back-of-a-napkin, one-sentence elevator pitch storyline. It's not original in that the plot devices and events of the film are largely lifted from other sources. None of this is surprising when you discover the film was based on a story originally developed as a short, which was then greenlit as a feature film.
It's not, though, in the sense that most of the supporting plotline seems to have been borrowed from elsewhere.Â I don't have a problem with writers pilfering things from other writers. All of the best stories are built upon the stories that came before them. As a great many people have supposedly said, "Good artists borrow, great artists steal", and so be it.
Some specific parts of Looper that I felt were extremely reminiscent of other works:
- man from future returns to kill child who will grow into future significant figure (The Terminator series, fitting as Garret Dillahunt from The Sarah Connor Chronicles appears as one of the Loopers)
- time travel in weird, claustrophobic capsule (The Jacket)
- Bruce Willis in peculiar time travel story (12 Monkeys)
- character levitated by telekinesis, then exploded (one of the X-Men films, cannot recall which one)
There is one scene which is very original, quite gruesome, and ultimately completely illogical. In the scene, the future version of Seth, played by Paul Dano, who has traveled back in time to the present, attempts to reach his younger self, who is being tortured. As he approaches his junior, who is having parts of his body amputated, the elder Seth's limbs begin to disappear, leaving him a crippled, useless hulk at the door to the building. While the scene is effective and disturbing, it makes very little sense upon consideration. Each change to the younger character should affect the entire timeline of the older version. Old Seth may have lead a very similar life to this point without -- say -- a finger, but it's unlikely that he'd have survived for 30 years, travelled back in time, and made it to the door of the building without both legs, though.
All time travel movies have their paradoxes, though.
While it had a very slow and borderline b-grade start, Looper soon picked up pace and ended up a pretty cool movie. The makeup on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, applied to give him a more Bruce Willis-like appearance, was frankly disturbing, though.