Looper (2012)

Looper
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Strong violence

Director: Rian Johnson
Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Garret Dillahunt, Noah Segan, Pierce Gagnon

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.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 118mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Audio Formats: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
Time in its prime
by Simon Miraudo,

There's a difference between science-fiction that inspires the question 'What if?' and science fiction that leaves us monosyllabically muttering 'Huh?' A film's ability to confound is not immediate certification of its brilliance. It's a revelation, then, that Rian Johnson's time-travel thriller Looper can communicate its elaborate conceit crystal-clearly, and then get to the business of asking some confronting questions of its characters and audience. The ideas are big, but the storytelling is economical. Johnson, working with his largest budget yet, also knows he has to deliver the money shots expected in a sci-fi spectacular, and Looper too has its fair share of GIF-worthy moments. It's nice to have a movie worm its way into your brain and leave you wondering and wanting more, and for t...

There's a difference between science-fiction that inspires the question 'What if?' and science fiction that leaves us monosyllabically muttering 'Huh?' A film's ability to confound is not immediate certification of its brilliance. It's a revelation, then, that Rian Johnson's time-travel thriller Looper can communicate its elaborate conceit crystal-clearly, and then get to the business of asking some confronting questions of its characters and audience. The ideas are big, but the storytelling is economical. Johnson, working with his largest budget yet, also knows he has to deliver the money shots expected in a sci-fi spectacular, and Looper too has its fair share of GIF-worthy moments. It's nice to have a movie worm its way into your brain and leave you wondering and wanting more, and for the mechanics of the plot hold up to further scrutiny. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's fake eyebrows, I suspect, would not withstand such close examination.

Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, an assassin in Kansas City circa 2044. Time travel has not been invented, he informs us, but it will be. Thirty years further in the future, mobsters will send back targets they need hit, and 'Loopers' like Joe will take them out and dispose of their corpses. It's the cleanest way to get rid of a body, and the only loose ends are the Loopers themselves. While Joe waits for the day future-Joe is propelled backwards to be assassinated (thus closing the loop), he parties with his wealthy buddies, paying no mind to the increasingly decrepit nature of his city. Shanty towns have been erected in the streets, chaos reigns, and a mild telekinetic mutation discovered in some humans has not delivered salvation like many had hoped. The clock ticks on, of course, and eventually Old Joe (Bruce Willis) appears, ripe for the murdering. Oddly, his head has not been bagged like the others usually are, and his hands are untied. After hesitating for the first time in a long time, Old Joe gets the jump on the young buck, and goes on the run. Needless to say, this is a no-no in Looper circles.

Jo-Go is decked out in prosthetics to resemble Willis; it's a guise I like to call 'the Spruce Bruce.' It's a rather convincing get-up, and Gordon-Levitt has Willis' mannerisms and sly smile down pat. When Joe the younger and Joe the older finally face-off, however, it becomes a sotto voce competition between the two actors, and this is more funny than it is threatening. The physical similarities are a nice touch, though they're not entirely necessary to the thrust of the plot. The plight of the Looper is only considered in the first act. The latter part concerns two people with the same genetic material - one having lived a full life, the other only half - and how their experiences take them down totally different roads. In essence, writer-director Johnson is asking the age old 'What if?' question: if your future self came to warn you of mistakes you were set to make along the line, would you change your ways? Later, it ponders that other age old query; the most challenging issue in the picture: could you kill a baby if you knew it would grow up to be Hitler?

The Führer is absent from Looper; in his place is another violent dictator known only as The Rainmaker. Old Joe is intent on taking out Cid (Pierce Gagnon), the child of hardened farm girl Sara (Emily Blunt), knowing he will eventually become a cruel killer and world-crusher. Young Joe falls under the isolated family's charms, and stakes out their barn to protect them from, well, himself. Maybe if Sara raises Cid right, she can keep him from his sadistic destiny. But if that were true, wouldn't the future have already been changed, and Old Joe zapped out of existence?

It was both a comfort and a concern to learn Shane Carruth of Primer fame had assisted Johnson in figuring out the mechanics of time travel here; a comfort because Primer is one of the finest time travel features ever made (and on a shoestring, no less), and a concern because it requires dozens of watches to totally unpack. I've only seen Looper once, and while I feel satisfied with my understanding of how the story played out, there is a lingering sensation that I'm missing something. Johnson's fantastic debut Brick and his underrated follow-up The Brothers Bloom - seriously, how could people not love Rachel Weisz breakdancing? - both unfold like magic tricks, with the biggest shock saved for the very end. Am I expecting too much from Looper and digging for a final twist where this is none? Or has Johnson deliberately layered his conclusion with clues that have sent me on this brain-bending journey? Is this a failing of the movie, or of my miniscule brain? And aren't hypothetical questions just a lazy way for a reviewer to raise points without actually addressing them? I can only answer one of those - the last one - and the answer is 'Yes'.

Don't get me wrong; those persistent inquiries are pleasant ones to have, and certainly more encouraging than the ones I had after the nearly-great Prometheus (where I walked away baffled mostly by the decisions made by the screenwriter in the final act). Gordon-Levitt, who starred as the teenage gumshoe in Brick, is at his best with Johnson behind the camera, and delivers a truly charismatic lead performance. Willis seems to care about his work here, which is already a significant improvement on some of his more recent parts, and he ably conveys Old Joe's moral quandaries (to see him evolve from a well-meaning bad-guy to a misguided and dangerous good-guy is quite harrowing). Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels - as the bored king of the Loopers - and Garret Dillahunt - an officer on the hunt for both Joes - are also excellent in their supporting turns. The real star is Johnson, who with his third picture cements his reputation as a thoughtful, visually-inventive, and eager-to-surprise young filmmaker. Looper is his most audacious piece, and sees him follow in the footsteps of Christopher Nolan. If Brick is his Memento, and The Brothers Bloom his The Prestige, Looper is his Inception. For what it's worth, Johnson has a far better sense of humour and understanding of visual language than Nolan. Whether he'll one day be gifted with an opportunity to attempt something as ambitious as the Dark Knight trilogy, only time will tell. He's earned it, and so much more.

4/5

Check out Simon's other reviews here.

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Member Reviews (67)

Not for everyone. Pushes the boundary as to what is acceptable in our society. Very violent.
Posted Monday, 7 July 2014 See my other reviews
Couldn't finish watching it, too violent
Posted Monday, 14 April 2014 See my other reviews
a great story despite all the violence
Posted Thursday, 3 April 2014 See my other reviews
GUN VIOLENCE
says
Barbaric ;Too much gun violence. We do not need time machine to predict that there will be even more gun violence to come in the USA in the future if violent movies like this one are so commonly shot and shown...
Posted Tuesday, 25 March 2014 See my other reviews
Jumbuck
says
Perhaps 'Loopy' would have been a better title - trash and trollop
Posted Tuesday, 28 January 2014 See my other reviews
Gavin
says
not my type of movie, it was a bit all over the place, I couldn't quite get my head around the plot, I wouldn't recommend it
Posted Friday, 17 January 2014 See my other reviews
Tom F.
says
Violent quasi-sci-fi thriller, like most things sci-fi, prefers to be "clever" rather than meaningful.
Posted Saturday, 21 December 2013 See my other reviews
Autumn Sadie
says
Excellent, unexpected and captivating sci-fi/ drama. I was quite taken with this film; the concept is very intelligent and well-developed. Quite a dark film (colour/ tone/ story) but it sees a very provocative concusion. 5 stars.
Posted Saturday, 9 November 2013 See my other reviews
Steve
says
A bit boring. Fast forwarded most of it. Storyline hard to follow. Dragged on a bit.
Posted Thursday, 31 October 2013 See my other reviews
Jules
says
Really enjoyed this one. Would recommend for sure.
Posted Wednesday, 25 September 2013 See my other reviews
Another movie that pays off if you watch it to the end as it has an interesting concept and delves beyond the surface. Intelligent and different idea with some thought provoking twists. The only thing I would say is that casting Bruce Willis in it has probably given the general public some ideas of what the movie would be like that are unhelpful.
Posted Wednesday, 21 August 2013 See my other reviews
nd
says
clever twist to the time travel theme
Posted Tuesday, 16 July 2013 See my other reviews
Jojo
says
Trippy and somewhat confusing however if you can stick with it I actually think the ending and how it all 'ties up' is pretty good. Not brilliant in my opinion by any stretch but it was watchable and something quite different from the 'norm'.
Posted Saturday, 6 July 2013 See my other reviews
Fitza
says
It had great reviews when it came out and I was looking forward to watching it - but was disappointed. Not as exciting or intriguing as I thought it would be. Still worth watching, if only to see Bruce Willis's rapidly ageing face.......but I found myself not exactly getting overly excited in the same way as say, 'StarTrek' (which also had a complicated plot involving Sock going back into the past, then the present etc.etc.).
Posted Wednesday, 19 June 2013 See my other reviews
JD
says
Obvious plot, good graphics otherwise a body movie.
Posted Wednesday, 19 June 2013 See my other reviews
darthdorian
says
enjoyed this one very much. if you don't get it...watch the movie with directors comments.
Posted Sunday, 16 June 2013 See my other reviews
kl
says
very long and slow movie
Posted Friday, 7 June 2013 See my other reviews
pfurball
says
Watched this for 15mins and it failed to catch my attention.
Posted Sunday, 2 June 2013 See my other reviews
Andrew
says
Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to be in everything at the moment. Not sure I liked his make up that was trying to make him look like a young Bruce Willis. The time travel seems to get overtaken by other supernatural events, but the young boy is incredible.
Posted Sunday, 2 June 2013 See my other reviews
very interesting.enjoyed it.
Posted Friday, 17 May 2013 See my other reviews
If you are into sc-fi this is a movie you must see! Brilliant original storyline, great cast and a super ending. Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a young Bruce Willis has to be seen to be believed. His facial expressions are spot on!
Posted Friday, 17 May 2013 See my other reviews
Schmizey
says
Didn't like it at all...too spacey for me.
Posted Wednesday, 15 May 2013 See my other reviews
chali
says
terrible. fell asleep and couldn't bring myself to finish it later.
Posted Tuesday, 14 May 2013 See my other reviews
GaryH
says
This movie could have been so much more but it tries to tell too many stories at once and finally gets bogged down in its own silliness. If you want a real time travel movie, see "Primer". So much more done with so much less.
Posted Wednesday, 8 May 2013 See my other reviews
Tony B
says
One of the silliest movies I've ever seen. Hot recommended
Posted Saturday, 4 May 2013 See my other reviews
rocky
says
More to the film than I first thought, a little slow to get the story out but worth the wait with an ending that I did not see coming great movie and Bruce Willis has still got "it"
Posted Sunday, 21 April 2013 See my other reviews
Lisa
says
really enjoyed it. Joseph is turning into a fine actor.....
Posted Tuesday, 9 April 2013 See my other reviews
Johno
says
A brilliant idea for a movie which I thought was really well done, both parts played by Joesph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis are superb, a great watch.
Posted Friday, 5 April 2013 See my other reviews
Lyn
says
A better than average popcorn action movie. I would give it 3.5 stars if I could.
Posted Friday, 5 April 2013 See my other reviews
Art S.
says
With echoes of La Jetee (or more accurately Twelve Monkeys) in its time travel plot, Looper probably ends up being too clever by half, although in its favor it does manage to stay coherent all the way through. Like Memento or Inception, this is "high concept" to the max with Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing his best Bruce Willis (and enabling Bruce Willis to continue to be the caricature he already was). In the future, someone might send you back to the past to get executed (potentially by yourself). If this sounds like the kind of brain-bending thriller that I'd usually like, that's true but instead I felt rather put off by the excessive violence and the sense of artificiality that hung over everything.
Posted Sunday, 31 March 2013 See my other reviews
Lee
says
Glad I wasn't the only one who thought this movie didn't live up to all the hype - it was pretty good but I kept waiting for it to be fantastic. But having said that I kept thinking about it on and off for a few days so it does get into your brain!
Posted Tuesday, 26 March 2013 See my other reviews
Moi
says
A bit strange to begin with, but it gets better as you go along.
Posted Wednesday, 20 March 2013 See my other reviews
June
says
Silly movie with pointless violence. We pressed STOP after 15 minutes, as it was truly terrible.
Posted Wednesday, 20 March 2013 See my other reviews
Enello
says
Excellent story and good resolution at the end - an intersting take on the time travel genre - and of course it's got Bruce Willis!
Posted Wednesday, 20 March 2013 See my other reviews
david simon
says
Interesting idea, not bad but could have been done better. Worth seeing but why is it impossible to hit Bruce Willis with a bullet in a movie, no matter how many are fired at him? Is it in his contract?
Posted Monday, 18 March 2013 See my other reviews
JC
says
Very good movie, great story but you must pay attention, this is one we had to wind back a few times to help us follow the action. All the cast did well, script very good and it kept out attention right to the end, plus there are some amazing effects.
Posted Friday, 15 March 2013 See my other reviews
3
says
Not a bad movie, seen better from Willis. It is a movie and it did entertain
Posted Friday, 15 March 2013 See my other reviews
@TorontoRod
says
Cool. Loved the dilemma of two Joes (present & future) running around in the same time. Didn't recognised Piper (lead in Coyote Ugly) till viewing the extras. As much as I loved the deleted scenes, I understand they would've made it too long. For me (unlike some others) it definately didn't outstay it's welcome.
Posted Thursday, 14 March 2013 See my other reviews
Quite enjoyed this. Time travel plots are always hard to follow but that's not a problem for me - I grew up on SF. What I had a problem with was that it was too difficult to dispose of bodies in the 2070s, so the killing is done in the 2040s. But... SPOILER ... what about when the gang are grabbing Joe in the 2070s? They use a taser for Joe, but the other person gets a bullet. What's the difference between the two? There's still a body to dispose of. Apart from that, I enjoyed it much more than I expected to.
Posted Thursday, 7 March 2013 See my other reviews
have to say this movie drove me loopy.
Posted Wednesday, 6 March 2013 See my other reviews
great movie
Posted Wednesday, 6 March 2013 See my other reviews
Jan
says
great movie!
Posted Wednesday, 6 March 2013 See my other reviews
Noel
says
It is interesting to see the range of opinions about this movie. Certainly a different approach to the time travel paradox theme. It was probably one of the best movies I have seen in a while but probably not quite a 5, maybe 4.75 stars.
Posted Monday, 4 March 2013 See my other reviews
Jase
says
Great Movie. Just loved it. Love Sci-fi and loved the original storyline. Just Great
Posted Monday, 4 March 2013 See my other reviews
Yeshe
says
This is one of the best movies I have seen for a long time. While not a big budget Willis shoot em up, it does have a cleverly crafted screenplay which is well executed by the writer/director. If you like science fiction you should love it, if you don't watch it anyway.
Posted Saturday, 2 March 2013 See my other reviews
Kristina
says
A very different movie, very enjoyable yet twisted. Not the usual goody baddy type and a twist at the end which makes you rewind to make sure you haven't mistaken what you have just seen. Highly recommended.
Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 See my other reviews
Considering the rave reviews that this movie received when it came out, I was a little disappointed. It was resonably enjoyable entertainment that was thought provoking, but the time travel stuff always has need you to suspend belief a little more than I can, even when I really try. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is very good right down to mimicking all of Bruse Willis' traits that we all know. I found it difficult that some things were of today (like the cars) but other things were futuristic (it is set in the future). Only for the sci-fi lovers (which I am!)
Posted Monday, 25 February 2013 See my other reviews
Pig McGee
says
An excellent film to watch if you like twisty sci-fi action. One of the best I've seen all year!
Posted Thursday, 21 February 2013 See my other reviews
Melzy
says
Got a bit lost in the story ....
Posted Tuesday, 19 February 2013 See my other reviews
MN
says
Really, confusing to the point of not liking it? Complex... yes, but you can follow the gist of it and there is rewind if you missed something! It's your usual time travel "butterfly effect" and alternate future(S) rules! Geez you lot better not watch Donnie Darko... !!! For those who like thinking this is worth watching... and watching again... and googling to really see the complexity (but it is still good enough to watch and understand in a more simple way)! I must say Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really stepping up. I'd almost give it 5 stars.
Posted Saturday, 16 February 2013 See my other reviews
Kazza
says
Well if you're a Bruce Willis fan go for it, I enjoyed it and the special effects were pretty great, found some parts confusing, but all in all enjoyed it. Worth the watch
Posted Saturday, 16 February 2013 See my other reviews
Len
says
It was rated highly by the critics, but I simply cannot agree. The lead actors were very good ... Bruce Willis being Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels and Joseph Gordon-Levitt excelled. However, it was the storyline that lets this movie down. Too confusing and doubtful that only the criminals would have access to time travel ... really? Ok, but only if you like science fiction.
Posted Friday, 15 February 2013 See my other reviews
poshreany
says
would be the most confusing movie ever, i was major let down by looper, the story was not strong and utter confusing made little to no sense to me very disappointing.
Posted Friday, 15 February 2013 See my other reviews
ack
says
looper, more like blooper i say. same old bruce willis shooting everyone, yet everyone missing him. tired formula .big letdown.
Posted Wednesday, 13 February 2013 See my other reviews
sue
says
You really have to consentrate to understand this film
Posted Tuesday, 12 February 2013 See my other reviews
Phil
says
Confusing storyline at first, it gets better with time even if it is in the end quite a predictable movie. What did happen to Gordon Levitt remain the real mystery. Ok movie, yep. Great one, no!
Posted Wednesday, 6 February 2013 See my other reviews
kimbo
says
I had high expectations on the movie being a big fan of sci-fi genre. It started pretty well setting expectations high, then follows a series of mediocre actor's play, copy-paste from other movies - Terminator/Signs style and such (missing the originality). The movie lacks charm and feels like multiple pieces put together - dialogs feel to be taken from elsewhere (other movies), character's act in a extremely foreseeable way, like you know what they are going to say or do. There are movies with lower quality of play and direction so this one i would put as mediocre. I personally wondered whether to stop it and watch something else couple of times. If you have no special demand for quality, fun and original movie that would bring you pleasure from watching - you can try to watch this one.
Posted Friday, 1 February 2013 See my other reviews
Shannon
says
It's an okay movie, the special effects are great though.
Posted Friday, 1 February 2013 See my other reviews
Darren
says
A great movie in concept, acting, editing, special effects and drama. took a star away for some floors in the plot making sense. The fact that a looper from the future deteriorated quickly the first time, but when Bruce turns up he buys a whole lot of panadol and is fine? Great acting by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. Better than the Matrix!
Posted Friday, 1 February 2013 See my other reviews
Adam
says
Great time travel movie with a twist. Very Terminator like killing in the past to rewrite the future.I liked it Well worth a watch
Posted Friday, 1 February 2013 See my other reviews
Johnson
says
Fabulous movie. A bit of a thinker, so if you don't like cerebral movies best to give this a miss. The only drawback: it plays fast and loose with the time travel paradox, and in that respect is wildly inconsistent. Watch for the scene where an old man is systematically amputated by the torturing of his younger self -- makes no sense at all, but it's powerful stuff.
Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 See my other reviews
gerd
says
A rather 'loopy' story, made even harder to understand by much indistinct dialogue. Nothing much made sense from beginning to end.
Posted Tuesday, 29 January 2013 See my other reviews
Wez
says
Best Sci fi movie Since MOON , Awesome.
Posted Thursday, 24 January 2013 See my other reviews
Thomas B
says
More holes in the plot than a piece of Swiss Cheese.
Posted Thursday, 17 January 2013 See my other reviews
Anya
says
Very good. There is a plot hole, (but then there is in all time travel story's). But it's not obvious, actually it's hard to spot. Which is great, because then you can get into emotions of the film without over-thinking the logic of it. Don't know if it is worthy of the 93% Rotten Tomatoes gave it, I think i'd give it 80%, was a bit excessively bloody for my taste. I did like how you don't know how it will end, or even who is the 'good' guy or the 'bad' guy, his future or present, it keeps you guessing. Definitely worth a watch.
Posted Wednesday, 17 October 2012 See my other reviews
.
says
.
Posted Friday, 5 October 2012 See my other reviews
Bavin
says
If you like the scenario that someone's future self can come back and visit them due to time travel, then you'll like this one. This movie starts with that premise and does a lot with it, with the two versions of the same character both having muderous intent. It is set in the future, but there aren't many futuristic gadgets except for a flying motorbike. There's plenty of violence and the plot never rests and keeps you guessing to the end.
Posted Monday, 1 October 2012 See my other reviews
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