Closing The Loop
by Mark Bishop
The new time travel movie 'Looper,' with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as the same character, is an unimaginative mess with no clear narrative or style. Instead, it gives us a brutal, cliched look at time travel and comes off like some weird mashup of 'Timecop,' 'Freejack,' 'Firestarter,' 'The Fury,' and 'Goodfellas.' I mean really, time travel in the hands of organized crime who use it only to dispose of people? And non sequitur telekinetics in a drug addled future with no apparent law enforcement? Seriously?
Enough said I think. So I'll close the loop by recommending three unique, low budget time travel films that put 'Looper' to shame.
We all love the more mainstream time travel classics like 'Back to the Future' and 'The Time Machine' (the original 1960 George Pal version,) but 2004's cerebral 'Primer,' written and directed by Shane Carruth and produced for only $7000.00, is the best of the sub-genre. It's a low-key yet plausible take on the invention of time travel, all the while giving us a very thought-provoking look at scientific discovery, entrepreneurs and ethics.
The 2007 Spanish thriller 'Timecrimes' (Los Cronocrimenes,) written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, unlike 'Primer' which has to be watched more than once, takes a surprisingly simple look at the same problems of time loops, paradoxes and causality.
2012's other time travel movie, the upbeat comedy 'Safety Not Guaranteed,' gives us a quirky view of life, relationships, what we hope to achieve, and what we're willing to believe.
All three are character driven films that use time travel in clever ways to tell an engaging story, as well as examples of what can be accomplished regardless of budget or big studio backing.
Finally, here's a bonus that redeems Bruce Willis, 1995's '12 Monkeys.' Universal gave Terry Gilliam 30 million dollars to make '12 Monkeys,' so while it's neither low budget or independent, it is a wonderfully convoluted post-apocalyptic time travel tale with great performances by Willis and an over the top Brad Pitt.
Collect all four on DVD and make a time travel marathon out of it.