Future shock 

'Looper' mostly stands up to scrutiny.

'LOOPER': Bruce Willis stars image
  • 'LOOPER': Bruce Willis stars.

In about 30 years, according to "Looper," we won't yet have time travel, though we will have designer drugs that we apply with droppers directly onto our eyeballs, and a few people will have starter-kit-grade telekinetic powers. Thirty years beyond that, however, there will be time travel, albeit controlled by organized crime. When the mobsters of the future want someone whacked cleanly, they bind them, toss them into a time machine and ship 'em back in time, where assassins called loopers stand ready to pull a trigger, at a designated hour and location. The bodies are disposed of and never found, because who ever thinks to look for a corpse 30 years in the past?

In an interview with the website io9, writer/director Rian Johnson likened time-travel movies to magic tricks that need to withstand scrutiny only in the instant of the performance. It was his way of apologizing in advance, maybe, for any inevitable plot holes arising when you're slinging characters across space and time, and killing off different versions of them along the way. But "Looper" benefits from enough internal consistency to hold the whole shebang together as a creative, grisly, nerd-pleasing ride stuffed with ample sick thrills, even for a dystopian vision of time-traveling assassins.

Key to the plot is the conundrum when an assassin is sent back to be shot by his own younger self ("closing the loop," in the parlance). Early on, an assassin played by Paul Dano comes crashing into the home of our hero assassin, Joe, played by a darkly dashing Joseph Gordon-Levitt, explaining that he just couldn't shoot his future self. But the criminal syndicate — headed, with villainous insouciance, by Jeff Daniels, of all people — doesn't abide loose ends. Dano's sad-sack assassin is apprehended and held, and soon the old assassin, on the lam, is reading instructions that are carved as scar tissue on his arm. Soon after, his fingers start vanishing. When someone is holding the you of the past, it's a cinch that they can pretty much get you to do whatever they want.

The crux of the action comes when Gordon-Levitt has to face down his future self, played by Bruce Willis, who is a cool future self to have just so long as he doesn't beat you unconscious when you're supposed to shoot him in the chest, per your job description. Soon a twisted manhunt is afoot: Joe aims to kill Old Joe, the mob tries to kill the both of them, and Old Joe tries to head off his own crappy fate by finding and capping the future's most feared criminal kingpin, known only as the Rainmaker, who happens to be a child in the very same city as our overlapping manhunts.

One possible young Rainmaker is a little boy (a precociously freaky Pierce Gagnon) at the farmhouse of an ax-swinging Emily Blunt. The second half of the film runs future-rustic, as your time-traveling mindbender fare collides with menacing boonies. Should you shoot a kid who's going to become a monster? Should you kill your future self if it means saving your life right now? Honestly, does it really make any sense to have loopers assigned to shooting themselves? Does Gordon-Levitt's prosthetics make him look like a young Bruce Willis or just botoxed?

And then, like that, it all wraps. Maybe it is sleight-of-hand, but maybe Johnson is onto something more enduring. For all its flash and bang, "Looper" transcends mere parlor trick — or, at the very least, maintains that heady illusion until the end.


Film Details

  • Looper

    • Rated R - Action/Adventure, SciFi/Fantasy
Rated R · 118 min. · 2012
Official Site: www.loopermovie.com
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Producer: Ram Bergman and James D. Stern
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Bruce Willis, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Tracie Thoms, Noah Segan and David Jensen

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Looper


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Movie Reviews

  • 'Seven' keeps it simple

    Antoine Fuqua's remake formulaic, but still a crowd-pleaser.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • New gear, same fear

    But a bumbling 'Blair Witch' revisit still scares.
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Brace for impact

    'Sully' uncovers the human ingenuity behind the 'Miracle on the Hudson.'
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge opens veterinary clinic

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge opens veterinary clinic

Eureka Springs non-profit will provide on-site veterinary care to its more than 60 exotic and native large animals.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Good Weather

    Lakewood pop-up gallery makes a home for art in limbo.
  • Lessons learned

    Picture Bret Bielema pole-vaulting for a minute. Then, once the laughter subsides, hear me out with this absurd analogy.
  • Ken Bonfield comes to The Joint

    Also, Guts Club plays Vino's.
  • White Water hosts a big Mississippi Blues Show

    Also, Red Octopus at the Public Theater, Alcee Chriss III at First Presbyterian Church, Harvestfest in Hillcrest, the Arkansas Times Hog Roast, Wildflower Revue at South on Main and Made By Few in Bentonville.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Lessons learned

    • I think you meant to write, 'Consider for a minute Bret Bielema pole vaulting.' As…

    • on October 20, 2016
  • Re: Good Weather

    • Great article, true words!! Good Weather is an amazing place.

    • on October 20, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation