Fruit Looper

I took Simon, my 16-year-old son, to see Looper a bit ago.  He loved it.

Me, not so much.

Of course, you know that I don't generally care for science fiction movies, which I usually find dumb. I found this retread of The Terminator to be dumber than most.

One problem is one I've  had before: movies can make horrible protagonists seem appealing by casting attractive actors and making them the focus.  In this case, we have Joe who, despite living in a vast and busy world, can only get a job shooting helpless tied-up men in cornfields at the behest of mysterious future criminals. He has no interests aside from taking drugs and patronizing prostitutes. When his future self comes back, he does so to murder small children. Yep, one great guy.

But the movie is full of silly things (no real spoilers here, I hope):

  • The victims from the future come back with payment in the form of big silver bars. Joe, seeking to get a stake so he can free himself, keeps the silver bars in a big vault under his floor, which everyone seems to know about. They must weigh half a ton. Why doesn't he convert them to cash, the way everyone else seems to?
  • There is a big city, and corn fields with empty roads. No suburbs, no shopping malls, nothing. You can even see the city from the corn field.
  • When Joe is being pursued, he runs straight home, presumably to shove the silver bars in his pockets.
  • Future criminals have a time machine. In fact, they have sent one of their own back in time (Jeff Daniels, in a relaxed and witty performance). But otherwise they just dump bodies through it (the machine looks like a bathysphere from the 1930s), rather than going back to this past time to make fortunes.
  • In 2044, people still hop on open freight cars to get free travel.
  • Time paradoxes are incredibly fluid here. There is one creepy horror-movie scene of a future person being whittled down by actions against his younger self (shades of doing things to a person in order to destroy a voodoo doll in Theodore Sturgeon's story "A Way of Thinking"), but it wouldn't suffer much examination.

SF is too often an excuse for laxness, and this movie took full advantage.  Watch The Terminator instead, which got this kind of thing right.