Looper – film review

Poster for the 2012 film "Looper".
Poster for the 2012 film “Looper”.
It’s 2074 in Looper. Guys use their telekinetic abilities to float coins to impress chicks, the future looks like a war ravaged, poverty stricken truck stop in the MidWest, and we finally have flying vehicles. Most importantly, time travel has been outlawed, and only outlaws have time travel.

The preferred way to kill is to set up assassins, or loopers, 30 years back in time. The gang sends the guy they want offed to the past, the looper instantly kills the poor shmuck the moment he appears, the Looper collects his bullion off the dead body, then he incinerates the body. In exchange for the risk of killing for pay, loopers get paid a lot until the day they have to kill their future selves to close the loop.

When our protagonist looper, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), tries to close his own loop, his older self (Bruce Willis) gets away. Now there are two Joe’s on the loose, an angry mob trying to clean up the mess, and all Present Joe wants to do is off Future Joe and get back to his drug addled lifestyle. Meanwhile, Future Joe is hellbent on killing somebody in the past to undo something that happened in the future, and somehow this all relates to a poor farmer girl, Sara (Emily Blunt) who tries to protect her psycho telekinetic boy, Cid, from being discovered.

On the plus side, Looper offers dystopian future fans plenty of misery. The TK touches are reminiscent of Akira. The ecosystem of the loopers has been well thought through. I liked how the flying bikes felt hobbled together with tech that almost kinda worked. The action scenes were top notch. And it featured Bruce Willis.

However, there wasn’t a single redeemable character in the movie. Each character, even Sara and poor “innocent” Cid, were grimy in some way. That made it hard to relate to them.

The time travel wasn’t thought through very well, either. Director Rian Johnson’s script seemed loosely put together in that regard. In an interview, he mentioned the necessity of magic logic to help the story make sense. At least he was honest.

Looper offers an intense ride from start to finish—complete with shock ending—as long as you don’t expect it to make a lot of sense.

Release Date: September 28, 2012 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R

MySF Rating: Two point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 0%


Alcohol/Drugs: 5 (recreational drugs & alcohol)
Language: 5 (more f-words than in a dictionary)
Nudity: 5 (topless dancers & sex scene)
Sexuality: 5 (Joe gets a lot of action)
Violence: 5 (explosions, dismemberment, incineration, gun fights, car accidents, and a high body count)

2 thoughts on “Looper – film review

  1. I really liked this movie. Very stimulating. I also disagree about their not being any redeemable characters. The younger Joe, mother, and son all find redemption by making decisions or having things happen that make their lives more worthwhile and themselves more worthy as people.

    1. You are correct that the child has a redeemable moment in the ending climax, but I tried to shy clear of discussing that moment to avoid a spoiler since there is that twist ending. Aside from that moment, the changes you refer to were simply too incremental for me to find convincing. I’m really hampered here because I don’t want to spoil the ending. Young Joe does indeed make a surprise decision, and it affects the future immensely, but I still would argue that he wasn’t a very redeemable character (an argument hampered by my unwillingness to discuss the surprise ending).

      According to Rotten Tomatoes, critics gave Looper a 97% approval rating, but the audience only gave it an 87%. That’s still high, but it leaves 13% unimpressed. I guess you know which percentages you and I fall into. Thanks for the great discussion.

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