Looper is a 2012 time-travel film noir starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis both as a character named Joe. The premise of the movie is that in the year 2074, time travel has been invented but it is illegal. It is used by criminals to dispose of people by sending them thirty years into the past where killers called loopers execute them in exchange for bars of silver. The kicker is that thirty years later the loopers are sent back into the past to be executed by their younger selves. This is called closing the loop and once the looper kills his older-self he is retired with a golden payday and heads off to enjoy his money in peace for thirty years. I know, this is a seriously goofy plot device.
Young Joe is a lost soul with a drug habit and little else. At one point he attempts to help his friend Seth, a fellow looper, whose older-self escapes killing. He hides Seth in his apartment. But when their boss Abe, played by Jeff Daniels, tells Joe that the choice is betraying Seth or losing half of his silver stash, Joe gives up Seth who is killed in a fiendishly painful way.
And of course, a similar thing happens to Joe. His older-self shows up to be killed but eludes Joe and thus it becomes a three-way search with Young Joe looking for his older-self and the gang looking for both of them. Into the middle of this is thrown a young woman named Sara, played by Emily Blunt, and her young son Cid. Young Joe shows up at her farmhouse because he has information that Old Joe is planning to kill the boy. Old Joe has information that leads him to believe that the boy will grow up to be a ruthless killer that will lead to the death of Old Joe’s wife. I won’t give away the ending because it’s well done and if you decide to see the movie it would spoil it.
From the point of view of science fiction, the plot has got more holes in it than swiss cheese. Using time travel to get rid of bodies? That’s the best use they could come up with? This story is really a character driven noir. Joe, in both of his manifestations, is a damaged human being who late in the game discovers his humanity. The improbable plot allows his characters to exhibit the best and worst traits in their personalities and his interaction with Sara and Cid allows him to finally look beyond his harried, meaningless existence and do something right.
By the illogic of the scenario, this movie may not appeal to somescience fiction fans with higher expectations for time travel story consistency. But as a story it has merits. Gordon-Levitt is his usual sympathetic persona. Interestingly they used makeup to try to make him look a little bit more like Bruce Willis. It is a little distracting, but not much. Bruce Willis is, of course, Bruce Willis and is most himself when he is pouring automatic weapons fire into his surroundings which he does with great abandon. But he does okay. The supporting cast is good and the few special effects are good enough. I’ll recommend this movie. It’s not great but it’s good.