Looper is a new science-fiction film which essentially tries to deal with an age-old moral teaser: ‘if you could go back in time and kill Hitler before he did what he grew up to do, would you?’. It isn’t about Hitler – it’s about a future in which time travel is both possible and outlawed. Illegal – thus over-taken by organised crime: ‘loopers’ are highly paid assassins who kill the targets of the future sent back in time by the gangs to meet their death. Loopers ultimately, can have their loop closed – discovering they’ve killed their own future selves, leaving them with 30 years of life before they meet their own execution.
So the story of the film goes – one looper escapes his fate and events are set in motion which lead to the question – one looper has the chance to kill the future’s criminal mastermind before he’s a grown adult, thus erasing the deadly trade for good. The film has noir-ish overtones, and occasionally a cheeky sense of good fun. It’s absurd, but largely conscious of its own absurdity. There’s a couple of unnecessary sub-plots, and a gratuitous, unconvincing strand involving tele-kinetic powers which lead the film into misplaced horror-lite territory.
All of which would leave the film as diverting but unremarkable if it wasn’t for one thing. The aforementioned moral dilemma leads to one character hunting down 3 children who may or may not be the future’s criminal mastermind and shooting them. It fits with the story of the film, and the moral dilemma is at least given some kind of recognition by the film-makers. It’s not a mis-step in terms of the film itself – but given that it was released here on the day of America’s Sandy Hook school shootings, the film does have a big problem. It’s surprising that the cinemas showing the film or the film company or journalists or somebody haven’t done something – pulled the film to a later date, warned people, or at the least stopped to think if this is the best time.
This isn’t about censorship – there really shouldn’t be issues which can’t be dealt with in film; but timing and sensitivity matter. Someone has got this badly wrong, or at least not thought enough. Looper is, ultimately, an interesting but inconsequential film released in some territories at just the wrong time. What’s more worrying is that no one seems to have spotted that.
I rated this film 3 out 5 on rottentomatoes.com & 6/10 on imdb.com