Review: “Looper” is an instant sci-fi classic

October 8th, 2012 at 7:53 am by under Entertainment

Smart, intriguing, fun, and original – “Looper” is destined to become one of those science fiction movies people watch over and over.

Warning to parents: “Looper” is rated R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content.

“Looper” poster courtesy TriStar Pictures

(My spoiler-free review)

If you’ve ever wanted to see a movie combine the sci-fi, gangster, and superhero genres into one movie, “Looper” is it!

The plot summary says: “In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits.”

Early on, the movie lays out all the “rules” of this world on the table for the audience to figure out and follow … and it lives by those rules.  We also learn what a “looper” is and the dangers/limitations of the job.

This movie is full of time traveling paradoxes and good old-fashioned shoot-em up action with hints at mutant powers, I was half expecting Christopher Lloyd, Robert DeNiro, or Professor X to show up in the final act.

Set in 2044, Looper’s futuristic sci-fi is grounded in the very near future or the reality that we won’t suddenly have flying cars in 30 years… more appropriately vehicles with a conversion for solar energy.  Even the future that our main character’s targets come from is not overly futuristic or utopian.  The world looks “lived in” and there are still rich and poor, sick, and hungry people in the future, something we don’t always see in big screen depictions of the future.  All of this helps ground the story in reality despite being set in writer/director Rian Johnson’s world with time travel and floating motorcycles possible.

There are numerous references to the mind boggling concepts of time travel that movie audiences have learned in other movies.  There are two notable references, like when present Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets his future self (Bruce Willis) – see photo below – and future Joe says something like “we could sit here and discuss time travel, but we’d be here for days”.  Joe’s crime boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) takes it a step farther with “This time travel crap, just fries your brain like a egg.”

Those ideas are where “Looper” really gets it right… instead of focusing on how it works or the other futuristic technology of the near and distant future, the movie focuses most of its time on character development, which makes it more relateable for the audience.

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “Looper” photo courtesy TriStar Pictures

Gordon-Levitt’s transformation into “Joe”/young Willis is not simply in the makeup chair, but very clearly on screen in speech patterns and mannerisms.  He is very much the everyman, despite what he does, the audience wants him to succeed.  Willis is very comfortable in the aging action hero role, bringing his wisdom and experience to the character of “Old Joe”.  He also frequently provides comedic relief to scenes to keep things from getting to serious/scientific.  They are joined by Jeff Daniels as “Abe”, one of the crime leaders who at first glance, seems to be playing the role a very nonchalant and almost comedic – but the more we learn about his character, the more his acting make sense.  They are joined by a well rounded cast that includes Emily Blunt as an overprotective woman, Paul Dano as Joe’s troubled friend, Piper Perabo as Joe’s dangerous “girlfriend”, Noah Segan as the man on the hunt, and Pierce Gagnon the adorably clever, vet spooky child who steals every scene he’s in!

My only critiques of the movie are its almost perfect attention to detail and continuity for present Joe and future Joe and its unnecessary nudity, while I understand that the director is establishing two very different women for Joe… I think it could have been more conservative so that a larger audience could see this movie… and I could recommend it to a younger audience.


“Looper”‘s smart and original sci-fi is combined with action that feels old-fashioned like a western or gangster pic, its “Back to the Future” + “Leon: The Professional” + “X-Men”…. I give it 9.0 out of 10 … its a movie you’ll want to see over and over.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson on set of “Looper” photo courtesy TriStar Pictures


(2012) (rated: R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content)
(1 hr, 58 min)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Summer Qing, Tracie Thoms, Garret Dillahunt

Director/Writer: Rian Johnson ["The Brothers Bloom" (2008)]

Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller

The Plot: In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

“Looper” poster and photo courtesy TriStar Pictures

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