The only time I’ve ever seen the high-style, high-energy time loop thriller Run Lola Run was at a free screening for LSU students back in the early aughts. It was a great programming choice for entertaining a crowd of stoned, Adderall-addled freshmen with a collective attention span of mere seconds, but even then it felt like an ancient artifact from another time & place, just a few years after its initial release. Run Lola Run is tweaked-out Euro trash pop art that only could have been made in the 1990s, a rave culture video game for the MTV era. That’s why it seemed so absurd all these decades later that a straight-to-Netflix Bollywood remake of the film would attempt to recapture that time-specific magic. I was already out of sync with the Hackers-on-ecstasy raver energy of the light-hearted German thriller back in the early 2000s, so I wasn’t sure what Looop Lapeta was expecting to mine from it in the 2020s.
That uncertainty was cleared up in the first scene, when our heroine starts her time loop staring in a bathroom mirror, contemplating her life choices (especially her casual drug use and unexpected pregnancy) on the occasion of her birthday. As she keeps resetting her day to that bathroom-mirror birthday epiphany, it’s quickly apparent that Looop Lapeta doubles as both a decades-late Bollywood remake of Run Lola Run and a timely Bollywood remake of Russian Doll. Neither comparison does it any favors, really, but at least the decision to revive Run Lola Run makes more sense when you consider it in the context of all the #timeloopcontent that has been flooding Netflix & other streaming platforms in the Russian Doll era. This is a movie obsessed with and weighed down by context too, considering all the backstory it piles on the barebones Run Lola Run plot template – from why our heroine runs so much (she’s a former Olympic athlete) to why she’s so emotionally dependent on her dirtbag boyfriend (he saved her from killing herself when her Olympic dreams were crushed). Even the time loop she’s stuck in while attempting to stop her favorite fuckboy from ruining their lives with a botched armed robbery is stretched out from Run Lola Run‘s original 20-minute cycle to 50 minutes, indicating just how weighed down it is by extraneous narrative clutter. It updates Run Lola Run by halfway converting it into a TV show – often a broad sitcom where the jokes rarely land.
Besides the recent popularity of high-concept time loop stories, Looop Lapeta also appears attracted to the rebellious counterculture posturing of Run Lola Run. It takes advantage of the amoral freedom of working with Netflix as much as it can, raising a middle finger directly at the camera in bratty defiance. Whereas most mainstream Indian films I’ve seen in recent years are slapped with moralistic warnings about the dangers of cigarettes & alcohol, Looop Lapeta goes out of its way to highlight how cool swearing, pot-smoking, and premarital sex make its heroine look. It’s about as dangerous as an anarchy symbol scribbled on a middle schooler’s notebook, but it makes the film stand out in the context of its industry. That kind of hedonistic behavior is more akin to Russian Doll than Run Lola Run in terms of actual on-screen content (Lola, as you will remember, mostly just runs), but it’s a juvenile version of rebelliousness that is stilly fully visible in its 1998 source material.
I’m just not convinced Looop Lapeta ever matches Run Lola Run in terms of style. Run Lola Run is all style, no substance (gloriously so), while Looop Lapeta is all substance in search of some sense of style. It updates the camcorder footage from Run Lola Run to its contemporary equivalent in smartphone framing, and it has occasional fun with crosslighting & low music video angles, but for the most part its style feels limp & inert. Inviting comparisons to such a propulsive, dizzying free-for-all only undercuts its own occasional attempts at high-style filmmaking, especially since everything in-between those touches plays like a shot-for-Netflix sitcom. The most Looop Lapeta did for me is make me want to revisit Run Lola Run, a college campus classic, and to be more selective with my straight-to-Netflix genre viewings. It’s harmless, but it’s also inessential – especially considering how many time loop movies we’ve seen in the past few years (Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, Palm Springs, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, etc. etc. etc.).