Director: Rian Johnson
Screenplay: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels
Running Time: 118 minutes
Genre: Science-fiction, thriller, time travel
In the year 2044 time travel is still thirty years aways from being a reality. However, mobsters in the future use the technology to send their victims back in time to 2044 where they are immediately executed by hit-men known as "Loopers". If a Looper survives long enough he too is sent back in time to 2044 to be killed by his younger self, this is called "closing the loop", and if a Looper fails to kill his future self for whatever reason then the consequences for both of them are severe. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper and a drug addict who has ambitions for a better life in France. However, one day Joe discovers that it is his turn to close the loop when his future self (Willis) is sent back for him to kill. However the older Joe escapes and soon younger Joe is on his trail desperate to kill him and make things right. Joe's boss, Abe (Daniels), a gangster from the future living in the past, sends every man he has to dispose of both versions of Joe.
This is an intriguing time travel film which has a fascinating take on the idea of the the temporal paradox which has been a mainstay of time travel stories right from the start. There are obvious influences of The Terminator (1984) and 12 Monkeys (1996), which also starred Bruce Willis. The future Joe hopes to change the past to influence the future. There is also the intesting concept of how you would react if you came face to face with either your younger self or your older self. One of the key scenes in the film being a discussion between the future and the present versions of Joe in a diner, where the older Joe refuses to discuss the complexities of time travel on the grounds that it makes your head hurt. Another key scene occurs when another Looper doesn't kill his future self and ends up being captured and tortured. The torture is depicted as the future version runs, old scars start appearing, his facial features become increasingly disigured and limbs start disappearing and his personality starts changing as the memories of the torture begin to assert themselves.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with prosthetics to make him more convincing as a young Bruce Willis, carries the film with a great performance marrying toughness, cockiness and emerging sensitivity, while Bruce Willis is as lost and confused as he was in 12 Monkeys but this time with a horrible moral dilemma to contend with. Emily Blunt is also impressive as the young single mother on whose farm young Joe takes refuge.
This is a dark film with a shocking twist that probably very few mainstream film-makers would have the courage to pull off. It also features an impressive depiction of a depressing, post-economic crash, noirish world. With recent films such as Moon (2009), Inception (2010) and Source Code (2011), intelligent science-fiction is in great shape at the moment and this is one of the best examples of the genre.