Looper: If I Could Turn Back Time

by Ethan Alter September 28, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Looper</i>: If I Could Turn Back Time

In general, there are two main approaches filmmakers can take to a time travel story. The first is to dive headlong into the logistics and consequences of trips back and forth in time, merrily twisting the audience's mind into knots by piling potential paradox on top of potential paradox (see movies like Primer, Back to the Future, Part II and the sorely underseen Spanish import Timecrimes). The other is to use time travel as a device to set the story in motion and introduce potential plot complications without sweating the details too much (see Back to the Future parts 1 and 3, Time Bandits and Midnight in Paris). In its early scenes, Rian Johnson's new action picture Looper seems like it's going to be the first kind of time travel yarn, but then switches over to the second. Since I'm the odd soul that prefers Back to the Future, Part II over the original -- few would probably rank the third one as their favorite -- I have to admit to being a little disappointed by Looper's change of heart. But credit where credit's due: Johnson has crafted a smart, inventive piece of mainstream entertainment that will likely find the kind of wide audience more cultish time travel movies like Primer didn't.

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