By Gary Murray

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt

Written and directed by Rian Johnson

Running time 118 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating Matinee


Time travel ideas have been around since H.G. Wells.  Our basic wish to change the past drives this desire.  In the cinematic age, time travel films run the gamut of the Back to the Future series to the Terminator group of flicks to The Time Traveler’s Wife.  In other words, the idea of time travel can be worked into just about every genre from comedy to action to romance.  The latest to take on time travel is Looper.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Joe, a mob assassin in the future.  He and his other cohorts are known as Loopers. Their job is to take out people in the future from their present.  The mark is sent back to Joe’s time and executed, hiding the body thirty years in the past.  These guys are well-paid, using the money on wanton women and drugs dropped in the eyes.    They are orchestrated by Abe (Jeff Daniels) a guy from the future who knows everything that will happen.

The loopers live in fear of killing the future version of them selves or as it is called, closing the loop.  One day, Joe goes to his assigned stop to accept the package of a future individual to be eliminated.  The guy is not bound and gagged but loose and ready to stop the execution.  The guy is Joe’s older self (Bruce Willis).  He escapes. 

The chase is on between young Joe and old Joe, a guy who knows every move the younger man will try.  Old Joe has come back to stop the takeover from his present.  He has some information that could change the entire world he is from, altering his past and affecting young Joe’s future.  Emily Blunt is Sara (like Sarah Connor in Terminator), the mom who may or may not be the key to changing the future. 

Even though Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis look nothing like each other, for some reason, they are believable as the same person.  Bruce is Mr. Action Hero and here he does not disappoint.  He is on a one-man mission, to stop his future from turning out the way it happened and making another future.  Along the way, he wastes a ton of bad guys in a blaze of bullets.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is making the transition from television star to leading-man actor, much the same way Bruce Willis did decades ago.  His character is not a nice person but a fascinating individual.  This is a solid performance from a rising young star.

Emily Blunt is an appealing young actress, but she brings little to her role as Sara.  She has proven her acting chops time and time again but never finds the spark needed for the character.  We have seen this kind of protective mom in a number of different films and this characterization does not stand out in any way.

Though the film is not exactly like Memento, one does have to pay attention to the structure of Looper much like one has to do with Memento.  There are going to be some audience members who will become confused by all the layers of time travel and how events affect the future.  Director/writer Rian Johnson takes a high concept and does his best to keep it clear.  There are a few moments where he seems to lose focus of his concept but the film generally holds up as an entertainment.

Looper is the kind of film that the masses with either love or hate.  It has enough action to keep the thrill junkies entertained and enough smarts to keep the intellectual cinema fans talking.  Those expecting a straight ahead action piece will be surprised (and maybe disappointed).  

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