Looper (118 min, 15 cert, Dir: Rian Johnson)
It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of Bruce Willis, as his persona on the big screen always fills cricket lovers of my vintage with a comforting feeling of familiarity. What with his distinctive bald head, intense ‘don’t mess with me’ glare, impressive command of Anglo-Saxon invective and willingness to run through a hail of gunfire without a helmet or chest guard, you can’t help but be reminded of my former Yorkshire and England colleague, Brian Close. Admittedly I’ve never seen Brian engaging in postmodern flirting with Cybill Shepherd, or Bruce Willis standing so close to Hans Gruber’s machine gun that the bullets ricocheted off his forehead into the hands of a nearby fielder, but still, the parallels are there for all to see.
So it was with some anticipation that I sat down with a bag of Mint Imperials at my local Odeon to watch Mr Willis’ latest cinematic offering, Looper.
What I was presented with turned out to be one of those new-fangled dystopian science-fiction thrillers all the kids of today are flocking to watch – which is fine by me, anything to stop the noisy little sods loitering on the pavement in front of my herbaceous border.
In Looper we are plunged into a futuristic time-travel drama where victims of gang crime are assassinated by being transported back 30 years to a waiting hitman. The twist here being that when the hitman themselves have outlived their usefulness they are in turn sent back in time to be unwittingly killed by their younger selves. Thus completing the ‘loop’ and leaving no trace back to their paymasters in the present day. There’s a pleasing cyclical logic to that plot, as satisfying as watching Bob Willis commentate on footage of that time he walked out play a test innings without his bat.
But I’m sure I’m not the only one whose first thought watching this premise play out was ‘if only we’d had the technology to do this to Boycott years ago’. Not to have him assassinated, of course; even the Yorkshire committee of old would have stopped short of that. But if the Geoff Boycott of the early eighties had been sent back twenty years to the start of his career then the two versions of himself could have endlessly run each other out until their collective career average dipped to a point where no one would give a tinker’s cuss if Yorkshire didn’t offer him a new contract in 1984. Sounds harsh, but thanks to Geoffrey’s fallibility at running between the wickets millions would have been saved and the resultant civil war shortened by years.
For me this is the story that Looper should have been. Instead we have a two hour film where Bruce Willis isn’t once called for a badly judged second to mid-off.
This represents yet another missed opportunity by Hollywood.
Overall: A thumbs down from me.