Looper (and the most unintentionally[?] hilarious preview ever)

Saw Looper today with my best friend and it was seventeen kinds of awesome, but first, this:

Have you seen this? Has there ever been a more unintentionally(?) hilarious trailer in the history of the US with the possible exception of the one for Battleship?

The first Red Dawn was an intensely silly movie, but at least it kind of made more sense, being toward the end of the Cold War and all when Russia was still pretty scary. Obviously, remaking it can’t involve Russia any more because they’re sort of our friend (except for the part where they cockblock everything we do ever in the UN Security Council but wevs) so what are we picking instead?

North Korea? Just… North Korea?

That realization makes the trailer utterly hilarious. Come on people. North Korea can’t even manage to hit Japan with a single missile. Shots of squadrons of airplanes and tanks rolling down highways? What is this even? Plus some kind of magical secret weapon operated by a very serious Asian man in a nice set of fatigues. (You can tell he’s North Korean because he has only one facial expression; that’s a country that can’t support fripperies like soldiers that can be both stoic and angry.) Also, I can’t help but wonder why the hell North Korea, if we lived in a magical world where they had these kind of resources, would be invading the United States instead of, gosh I don’t know, South Korea.

It’s ridiculous. I’m guessing that’s why never once in the trailer do they say it’s North Korea, because it’s such a howler. Instead, it’s just a giant army of scary Asian guys invading part of America because… reasons. One can only surmise that they hate our freedom. PFFFFFFT.

Bonus points if you imagine Chris Hemsworth dressed as Thor while he’s doing this, by the way.

But anyway. Looper. This is without a doubt the best science fiction movie I have seen in years. While I’m sure you could spend ages nitpicking apart the time travel fuckery that is central to it, that doesn’t change the fact that it is a good story, told about fascinating characters.

If nothing else, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis make an intense team showing how much a man can change in thirty years, and also how little. The character of Joe is still capable of the same kind of horrific brutality in the before and after, but for incredibly different reasons. It leaves you wondering just how much the reasons even matter, however.

Pierce Gagnon is excellent as Cid, the creepiest child that has ever existed on film outside of a horror movie. And Jeff Daniels as Abe makes a wonderful mob boss. He’s so weirdly avuncular that you can’t quite understand why anyone is afraid of him up until he cheerful breaks a fuck-up’s hand with a hammer. Then you realize that he can be that jolly because he’s an absolutely horrific person.

Abe: I’m from the future. I’m telling you to go to Shanghai.
Joe: I’m going to France.

It’s a wonderful exchange.

The only complaint I really have about the movie is that it’s 2044, and apparently women still only exist as strippers and waitresses. Or the embodiment of redemption for the grizzled hero in the form of ladies they sex up. That, I find exceedingly disappointing. I would have been happy if there’d just been a few female extras in long black coats wielding ludicrously huge handguns for Bruce Willis to mow down toward the end of the movie.

Go see it. It’s excellent.

SPOILERS NOW YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

One of the things I liked most about the movie is that it chose the right moments to surprise me. There were some plot elements that were easy to call (like Cid, the creepiest child that has ever existed, being the future Rainmaker) and others that just took me off guard. I didn’t really think Old Joe was going to go around mowing down kids until he actually did. I didn’t think Young Joe would break the cycle by killing himself until the very end, when he started his final, short monologue. In fact, I thought the end of the movie would be Old Joe killing Cid’s mom, and thus the future and this endless loop of violence being preserved. (Making the movie more like 12 Monkeys and infinitely more depressing.)

Okay, and yes, now you can argue about how in the context of time travel and causality it doesn’t really make sense as a solution and then the plot continuing forward but shut up it was an excellent story.

It was obvious that Cid was going to be the Rainmaker, but the answer as to why he could be a one man wrecking crew was unexpected and a bit scary. As was the revelation that he’d made his adopted mother explode, I thought. Seeing Young Joe hug the blood-covered little terror was a turning point I didn’t expect, because he didn’t even point his gun at the kid. It was all incredibly well done, I thought. It was a good counterpoint to earlier, when Joe sells his best friend out so he can keep his hoard of money.

That sequence, by the way, was utterly horrifying, seeing what happened to Old Seth once the “doctor” had his hands on Young Seth. It certainly added to the suspense of Young Joe having to escape from Abe.

The other part of the setup I really liked was in the first loop, where Old Joe escapes and then Young Joe potentially dies. Then in the second loop, we see how Old Joe gets to the place he’s at, see why he’s doing what he’s doing and why he’s also such a giant badass. Then the real loop starts, to be finally broken at the end by Young Joe.

Good, good writing. Good, good acting. Loved it. I’m happy to give up on accuracy about the time travel if it’ll be used to tell a story this intense.

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