I have to imagine sci-fi fans feel like they’re trapped in a Petri dish of unoriginality at times.
And when I refer to sci-fi fans, I’m not talking about Star Wars nerds. No. I’m talking about the hard-boiled folks, the ones raised on Asimov and Bradbury who follow the goings-on of science fact just as closely. These are the guys who will sit you down and lecture you on how Arthur C. Clarke imagined satellites before they were a reality, who can quote ‘Blade Runner’ line for line.
My dad’s one of these types. Where comics are my thing, real-deal sci-fi is his. He digs ingenuity, stories and concepts that don’t look or sound familiar but still include familiar elements like space, time, physics, etc.; tough to find in the money-hungry world of big budget film studios that prefer sequels over substance.
Tough, not impossible. Sometimes people like my dad get bread crumbs thrown to them, little science-y tidbits of nourishment that fool them into thinking creativity and story are still royalty when it comes to modern cinematic storytelling. The surprise 2009 hit “District 9,” about an alien race trapped and contained in modern-day Johannesburg, was one such morsel.
“Looper,” I think, is another. I saw it with friends over the weekend. We were “fortunate” to sit next to a young lady who narrated the entire film. Guy gets shot, she says, “Oh my God, that guy just got shot.” Someone does something brave that puts their life on the line, she says, “Yeah, wow, self-sacrifice.” Trailer for Bin Laden movie “Zero Dark Thirty” concludes, her inner tinfoil hat wearer kicks in with, “That is such bull___, he was dead a long time ago.”
Fifty-fifty shot her significant other broke it off after the credits started rolling. No joke, he looked like he wanted to die that whole two hours.
But shrieking harpy aside, I genuinely enjoyed the film. It’s a “in-the-not-too-distant-future” type-tale, but a hip, intriguing one. It’s about Joe, an assassin who has unusual targets: people sent back from the past because they’ve pissed off this person or that person.
They ride the Rolex, Joe blows ‘em away, gets paid, and disposes of the bodies in a furnace. Like they never existed. Everything’s going great until his future self pops up as his next target.
It’s a nifty premise to be sure, one that comes with some pretty solid performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. The action scenes are HOT: explosions, telekinesis, gunslinging, everything the 14-year-old me could want. I did have reservations about the storytelling methodology. Director/writer Rian Johnson used A LOT of voice over, and while I’m not anti-voice over, it’s easy to get excessive with it. Remember that middle school writing instruction of show, don’t tell? It applies in screenwriting the most, as you’re telling a visual story.
Other than that though, definitely recommending it to Dad. He will, no doubt, have some philosophical/academic response to it that’ll make me think too hard and lose sleep.
That seems to be the way of things. Thanks in advance, Dad.