I am officially afraid of time travel

I am officially afraid of time travel

Worth It
Oct 2, 2012
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Every year the Toronto International Film Festival selects a special and highly anticipated film to launch the event. Last year (2011) featured the U2 documentary, stomach From the Sky Down. This year they went in a different direction by selecting the sci-fi thriller, there Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.

In the near future time travel becomes a reality, but it is quickly banned by international powers as the dangers of its use are far greater than the benefits. Of course, like anything that is outlawed, the criminal element becomes the one who takes advantage of all things unlawful. A huge crime syndicate in the future uses time travel to conveniently deal with those they’d like to “dispose” of. They send their victims 30 years into the past at a pre-conceived location where an assassin (a.k.a. Looper) is waiting to shoot them dead and dump the bodies into an incinerator. Of course, this means no matter what the law does to investigate the disappearance of someone (in the future), there will never be proof of the crime. Smart, right? That is until Joe (our central character and bonafide Looper) must murder his future self. How’s that for a brain-twister?

While Looper has an exciting premise, it goes well beyond the obvious and rolls out a thoughtful, layered and memorable story. More than a clever science fiction piece, this film delves into the subtleties of character and the power of relationships. It would be expected of most filmmakers to run with the theoretical conundrums facing time travel and geek out on the audience. But promising director Rian Johnson handles the material deliberately, making sure to keep the characters central against a smart but downplayed sci-fi backdrop. Of course, when you have the likes of Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, you’d be crazy not to give them meaty parts with which to work. And Johnson writes a great script that offers them considerably nuanced characters as well as harrowing plot twists. Gordon-Levitt is particularly amazing. I already knew that he was a smart actor who chooses great films. But, in Looper, he has clearly put is heart and soul into a most difficult part. Imagine, you have to play a character who is played by Bruce Willis, but 30 years younger. Having to backwards-engineer the soul of a complex character is no easy task. But JGL tackles it with a depth and intensity rarely seen by any actor, let alone one his age.

Looper stands out as one of this year’s best films. Smart, entertaining and powerful, it does a brilliant job questioning human nature and how our choices impact one another. That, and it makes me think time travel is a really bad idea.

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Craig the Critic

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