Looper - Movie Poster

Looper – Movie Review

I absolutely love this genre of movie, this is what I live for; a quality bit of time-travel science fiction. It’s so hard to do time-travel movies well, so the best ones are few and far between. Thankfully Looper is an excellent example of how to do a time travel movie and how to do it well.

It’s the year 2042, time-travel hasn’t been invented yet, but in thirty years time, it will have been. Gordon-Levitt plays Joe – a hired gunman known as a Looper, employed by mob bosses thirty years in the future.

In the year 2072 it has become almost impossible to dispose of a body after a ‘hit’ due to the tracking technologies invented by then. When you want somebody dead, you tie them up and send them back 30 years to be immediately executed by Loopers like Joe. They do the dirty work and dispose of the body which technically doesn’t exist. It’s the perfect crime.

Looper - movie still - Execution

The opening scenes of the film explain the concept of Loopers brilliantly with the aid of Joe’s voice over – we see numerous quick edits of Loopers doing their job. They check their watch, a person appears out of thin air all tied up, BANG, collect the pay, get rid of the body. It’s quick, easy and deadly efficient. The audience is immediately hooked.

At some point in a Looper’s life they will execute a person and discover a massive payday attached to the body. They have just killed their future self. This is known as “Closing the Loop”. Good work Looper, happy retirement, enjoy the next thirty years.

Targets cannot be allowed to escape, there are too many consequences when time travel is concerned and early on we are shown what the penalty can be for letting your target get away when another Looper – Joe’s friend allows his future self to run. It’s a brilliant scene as we see what horrible things happen to him even though we don’t actually see anything. It’s gruesomely clever… Personally, I think you’re better off just killing your future self and being done with it.

Things kick into high gear when Joe is confronted with his future self. After a moment’s hesitation, future Joe (Bruce Willis) is on the run.  Now we’re all set for a cat & mouse chase movie with a difference, but with an added element of The Terminator thrown in for good measure too.

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as old and young Joe, meet in the diner for a stand off
Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as old and young Joe, meet in the diner for a stand off

The film is only set 30 years from our own future and as such, the world hasn’t changed massively like we see in the recent Total Recall re-make. It’s a somewhat dystopian future much like we’ve seen in other near-future movies such as Children of Men. Some of the weapons are almost retro in their design and styling giving the film a bit of a Wild West sort of vibe that feels appropriate considering most of the film takes place in Kansas City and the surrounding mid-west farmlands way outside of the city.

It’s in these mid-west settings in a typical US diner where we get a great meeting between the two versions of Joe, where they discuss how things are “gonna go down”. This is the kind of scene where the writer tries to NOT explain time travel but gives us just enough information to enjoy the film. Old Joe explains “I’m not going to sit here and tell you how time travel works!” but goes on to say how his memory of the past is “Fuzzy, I remember bits, but sort of as they happen”. It’s one possible path, but things can be changed. I love all this stuff as it really gets the audience involved and thinking.

Its also in this scene where it really pays off that they used two actors to play the same character instead of just using make-up to age Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It would have never worked seeing the same actor talking to himself in make-up and could have been jarring. But having different actors working together so well like this, you completely believe that this is the same person talking to himself – just 30 years apart. It’s really well done.

Emily Blunt puts on a great American Mid-West accent in Looper
Emily Blunt puts on a great American Mid-West accent in Looper

I won’t explain any further plot points here as I don’t want to spoil the film, but we also get to meet Emily Blunt as a single mother living on a remote farm. I’m a big Emily Blunt fan and speaking as an English person myself, I thought she did a fantastic job with her American mid-west accent.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to have picked a few winners with his recent film roles what with Inception, 50/50 and The Dark Knight Rises. He is fast becoming one of Hollywood’s leading actors, which is great to see. It’s also good to see Bruce Willis is still able to pick up some great roles, he gets some cool guns blazing moments. In fact, Bruce Willis must be one of the busiest actors going in 2012 looking at his IMDB profile.

Looper - Movie Still - Bruce Willis Guns Blazing
Looper – Movie Still – Bruce Willis Guns Blazing

In Conclusion

So who is this film for? It may be a science fiction, time travel movie, but I honestly feel that this movie is so good that anyone, even non-sci-fi fans can enjoy it – that is a sign of a really good science fiction film. From the opening scenes, the concept is introduced so well that you are all set to stick with this film to the very end.

There are also some funny moments too, despite all this talk of killing, and it was good to see Garret Dillahunt (Burt from Raising Hope) again.

It’s a film that keeps you thinking during and even long after it has finished. I may even go as far as to say this *could* be my film of the year so far. Possibly even this year’s answer to Inception. Basically, get yourself to the cinema as soon as possible and watch this awesome movie.

My Rating: 9/10

About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or via our socials. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on X / Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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