I have a strange relationship with science fiction. Most of it bores me, because most of it is bad. But when done right, it sends me to new stratospheres. Looper is sci-fi done right.
There’s already a lot of sharp writing out there about the film and its great direction, performances, and so on. Rather than hastily touch on a variety of things in the film, I wanted to simply admire its structure.
Even if you’re not familiar with the film or its basic premise, the title alone tells you that this is a film about circles, and so the story unwinds in a very circular fashion. Looper understands that the appeal of time travel in storytelling does not lie in building a logical explanation for such a crazy concept, but in the ability to provide a wealth of information and story while still preserving some modicum of a chance for change.
The film is very smart about establishing parallels in form and content. Looper doesn’t just adopt loops within its story, but even takes on the range of the film’s weapon of choice: the blunderbuss. Just like that gun, the film is not interested in anything beyond its immediate perimeter. Writer/Director Rian Johnson has built an incredible world here, but is content to let that world only show itself when the characters engage with it.
The fiction here is not the speculative science, but fiction with a dash of speculative science. Looper is a one-of-a-kind film: not just an engaging genre story, but a genre story that helps you better define your relationship with the genre.