“Looper” — A Slice of SciFi Movie Review

Reviewed by Michael Hickerson (Slice of SciFi Editor)

Genre fans have pinned a lot of hope of Looper, an action thriller with a clever sci-fi twist.  The good news is the movie not only meets but it exceeds those expectations.

Sixty years in the future, humanity invents time travel and them immediately outlaws its use.   However, criminal elements have set up a clever system where victims are captured, sent back in time thirty years and killed by hired thugs called loopers.  Since the person hasn’t been born yet, it’s technically not murder and not crime to dispose of the body.

The catch comes when it’s time to close your own loop.    The looper is sent back in time and killed by the younger version of himself.   You then get a big payday and are out of the business, free to live your life for the next thirty or so years until it’s time to be popped back in time and die.

However, in the future it appears a new crime boss has appeared on the scene, called the Rainmaker and he’s closing all the loops.

Joe (played masterfully by Joseph Gordon Levitt) is one of the hired killers.   He lives well, is addicted to future drugs that are dropped directly into the eyes, studies French and is saving up for the day when his loop is closed.  It arrives but instead of being able to eliminate his future self (played by Bruce Willis), his future self over powers him  and escapes.  Seems that future Joe found redemption beyond his life as a killer and wants to eliminate the Rainmaker during Joe’s time line.

If it all sounds a bit complicated, it’s probably because it is.  It’s tempting to want to use the phrase “timey-wimey” when talking about the time travel mechanics of Looper.  But make no mistake–this isn’t Doctor Who and it’s a far darker take on time travel than that series has (or ever will) give us.   Looper is an action thriller that requires a bit more of the viewer than just enjoying a high body count.  With its sci-fi premise and its world-building moments, Looper is the rare action thriller that rewards not only paying attention to the details, but also thinking.

The film wisely doesn’t try to be too clever for its own good, but it will keep you guessing up until the final moments.  Both Willis and Levitt are superb as different aspects of Joe.  Emily Blunt and Piper Perabo also show up as well, with Blunt getting a far more substantial role in the film.  If you’ve just seen Blunt in romantic comedies, be ready for a surprising performance here that shows some great range.

But it’s Jeff Daniels as a mob boss sent back from the future to oversee the loopers that nearly steals the show. Daniels chews scenery with aplomb and is one of the many highlights of the movie.

Looper is a strong, adult sci-fi action drama that leave you thinking and discussing it long after you leave the theaters.  Parents whose kids are begging them to take them to see Hotel Transylvania this weekend would be better served to drop the kids off for that animated feature and treat themselves to Looper.  The film does earn its R-rating, but it’s a soli, entertaining effort that is more than worth the price of admission.

Go and see it.  And then tell a friend or two about it.


  1. podakayne says

    thanks mike i this movie has two of my favorite often-underrated actors taking the leads…been a bruce fan since his tv days, he can do action, comedy, suspense and scifi loves him and levitt has been on my radar since his young days of tv and move to movies, good to see him getting the grown up roles and expanding his acting chops…oh yeah and scifi loves him too…

    • says

      Imagine my surprise a couple weeks ago when I was rewatching my Numb3rs dvd’s to see a fresh-faced JGL pop up as a guest on the 1st season episode “Sacrifice”. I think on one of the commentaries, David Krumholtz mentioned that they’d been friends since they were both kids.

      I should get around to watching Inception one of these days, shouldn’t I?

  2. Patrick in Portland says

    I agree wholeheartedly, Mike. I think this may end up being the most underrated and missed film of 2012. In a year of genre blockbusters this film snuck in and blew me away. It reminded me of something that Philip K. Dick would have written.

    Make no mistake, this movie is more than what the trailers make it out to be. You won’t be disappointed watching it.

  3. Brian in Iowa says

    The makeup job they did on Levitt was phenomenal. He didn’t look like the real Bruce Willis from the eighties but he did look like a young version of the old Joe in the movie. Levitt did a great job emulating Willis’ facial expressions as well. The plot was a good exercise in time travel paradox without over doing it.

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