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Home Video Review: 'Looper'

Jan 1, 2013
Originally published on January 8, 2013 2:19 pm

Welcome to a future when time travel has been outlawed, meaning only outlaws like Joe, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, travel through time. Joe's an assassin for a crime syndicate that sends folks it wants erased back from 30 years hence.

Gordon-Levitt's been made up to look like a young Bruce Willis, and when Willis shows up as one of the folks he's supposed to kill — well, that's called closing the loop — and there you have director Rian Johnson's nifty premise.

Looper is plenty of fun on its own, but on Blu-ray, along with the usual commentary tracks, you'll find not two or three, but 22 deleted scenes. There's one that expands a nightclub sequence from the finished film's 12 seconds or so, to well over a minute (including a blink-you'll-miss-it, walk-through cameo by Tobey Maguire).

Another deleted sequence expands a conversation in a diner between the old and young Joes, explaining a line that flew right by me originally.

"I don't want to talk about time travel," says Willis. "We're gonna be here all day talkin' about it, making diagrams with straws."

"Diagrams with straws," it turns out, was the set-up for a sequence you never see in the completed film: Bruce Willis takes the top off a salt shaker, and empties the salt on the table, with most of it ending up near one of two straws.

The actors spent an entire weekend rehearsing this bit, so it's nice to see it play out, with the director and another cast member explaining how a bit of semi-crucial info about time travel got lost in the process.

Not lost any more, of course. Great fun to close that loop, and a nice way to spend a little extra time with Looper, a seriously cool time-travel movie.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Time now for our first home viewing recommendation of 2013 from film critic Bob Mondello. In case you missed it in theaters this fall, Bob suggests you head boldly into the future with the time travel thrill ride, "Looper," just released on video.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Welcome to a future when time travel has been outlawed, meaning only outlaws, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, travel through time.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LOOPER")

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: (as Joe Simmons) When they need someone gone and they want to erase any trace of the target ever existing, they use specialized assassins like me, called Loopers.

MONDELLO: Gordon-Levitt's been made up to look like a young Bruce Willis, who's playing a man he's supposed to kill because...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LOOPER")

GORDON-LEVITT: (as Joe Simmons) The only rule is never let your target escape, even if that target is you.

MONDELLO: That's called closing the loop, in this case with young Joe meeting old Joe. And there you have director Rian Johnson's nifty premise.

"Looper" is plenty of fun on its own, but on Blu-ray, along with the usual commentary tracks, you'll find not two or three, but 22 deleted scenes. There's one that expands a nightclub sequence from the finished film's 12 seconds to well over a minute, including a blink-you'll-miss-it walk-through cameo by Tobey Maguire.

Another expands a diner conversation between the old and young Joes, explaining a line that flew right by me originally.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LOOPER")

BRUCE WILLIS: (as Joe Simmons) I don't want to talk about time travel. 'Cause if we start talking about it, then we're going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.

MONDELLO: Diagrams with straws. That was the set-up for a sequence you never see in the completed film. Bruce Willis takes the top off a salt shaker, and empties the salt on the table, with most of it ending up near one of two straws.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LOOPER")

WILLIS: (as Joe Simmons) Stand between these straws is a timeline of the next 30 years. The machine is tuned to a fixed time, you know that, 30-odd years or so. It's not adjustable.

MONDELLO: The actors spent an entire weekend rehearsing this bit, so it's nice to see it play out, with the director and another cast member talking it through.

(SOUNDBITE OF DVD COMMENTARY)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: A little bit of insight into how the time travel works; the idea that it's not an adjustable...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: That's the one bit of information that we lost by cutting this segment out...

MONDELLO: Not lost any more. Great fun to close that loop and a nice way to spend a little extra time with "Looper," a seriously cool time-travel movie.

I'm Bob Mondello. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.