For those who don’t venture into sci-fi often, their perception of time-travel rules might only be along the lines of the guidelines in Back to the Future—don’t change history and don’t speak to your past or future self. In San Clemente-native Rian Johnson’s Looper, those rules are not only broken freely, but breaking them is an important part of the film.
In 2044, in a fictional Kansas city, part of the population is mildly telekinetic and “Loopers” (hit-men) exist as part of crime world’s way of getting rid of people. Drugs are used as eye drops and the city’s run by a mobster from the future (Jeff Daniels). Once loopers hit 30 years past the date they began their first job, they are sent back into the past and are killed by their younger selves. But when Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is sent to face his future self (Bruce Willis), things don’t go as planned. Future Joe is determined to stay alive and Past Joe hides out in an old farmhouse owned by a single mom (Emily Blunt).
Looper is a film, much like Mulholland Drive, where by the third act, there are so many storylines and characters there seems no way they can all come together. But they do, and Johnson uniquely and intriguingly pulls it off without any questions left. Despite a clichéd theme near the middle and Gordon-Levitt’s distracting prosthetics, Looper is fascinating all the way through.