Looper - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Looper Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 1, 2013
A very smart and thought-provoking science-fiction that injects some thrilling action scenes in a compelling time travel narrative and deserves special praise for its great direction, fine acting and for respecting our intelligence like any first-rate sci-fi should.
Super Reviewer
September 27, 2012
Spoiler ------------------------------------Wasn't impressed with that stupid ending at all. I hated that you get to care about the younger and older looper and then it all gets thrown away at the end for that horrible brat. Sorry. Ruined the whole movie.
I agree, this movie does feel like it's in two separate parts, and for me it's all downhill when he gets to the farm and meets Emily Blunt's character.
Super Reviewer
½ October 18, 2014
Contract killers from the future are sent back in time to be terminated by their younger selves, but one man is able to escape certain death. Helluva twisty ride, and despite the time travel concept and JGL's ridiculous Bruce Willis make-up, it's much more sensical than Rian Johnson's debut "Brick." The first act still retains Johnson's penchant for quick cool patois, but it's used as straightforward exposition and not verbose McGuffins.

The second act relies on some icky "saved by the love of a good woman" tripe, but the introduction of Emily Blunt's character as a fiercely protective mother of the future's sociopathic despot is surprisingly raw and heartbreaking.

I wouldn't say the ending is predictable, but when it came, I thought, "Oooof cooourse. It's the most logical ending." So yeah, the movie is pretty satisfying as a whole, but the looping quality makes for a Terminator paradox. If "this" never happened, why would "that" need to happen in the future, you know what I mean?
Super Reviewer
August 30, 2014
Rian Johnson's Looper is astonishing. It creates a unique time travel scenario, and is mostly consistent with the rules it lays out for itself. The action is great; the suspense is gripping, and all the actors do amazing jobs at playing lonely, grief-stricken characters. One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is how it questions notions of predestination and fate. Can someone really be held countable for crimes they have not yet committed, or could they become different people given a change of circumstance? Looper isn't shy about getting you to think. It's primed to blow your mind visually and logically.
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2012
i loved watching this movie. however, the flaw in the logic at the end is too much for the film to overcome. well shot, well acted, and the story was very engaging and far more purposeful than most sci-fi films, but it fell apart.
Nikhil N.
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2013
It is rare that I go into a movie with high hopes and walk out with my expectations exceeded. This movie is action-packed, smart, and intense. The plot is incredibly intriguing, providing the most interesting take on gangsters I have ever seen. The film is dark and bold, and leaves the viewer in awe on multiple occasions. Although the movie has its plot flaws, it takes a director like Rian Johnson to skillfully embrace its flaws and build from there. The transformation of Joe's character throughout the film is thoughtful and brilliant. Scenes range from action packed to drama filled to nail-bittingly suspenseful. This is to this date, the greatest Sci-Fi film I have ever seen, and easily one of my favorite movies of all time.
Super Reviewer
October 9, 2012
Time travel sci-fi is one of my fav motifs, one where you actually have to do something really stupid to turn me away ... this film does not do that. This film maybe also stretches physics some, but it engages the imagination too, so its easily forgivable.
Gordon-Levitt (who I only yesterday saw as a talented teen in 10 Things I Hate About You, my own bit of time travel) downplays playing Willis' past self and so capably anchors this interesting haiku poetry, meditation, about how time changes how we view our own lives. Willis is always good, but the film starts dipping deep when Blunt finally enters.
Really enjoyed this, and will be looking for more from the writer/director Johnson.
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2013
Joe: That's your life, not mine. So why don't you do what old men do and die...

"Face Your Future. Fight Your Past."

What a movie. Looper is a smart time travel movie that has a new concept and that doesn't get caught up in all the technical jargon of time travel. We're given the situation of how time travel is used in the future and then the movie just goes. It takes some surprising turns along the way and ends in about as satisfactory a way as I could have imagined, and also in away that I didn't expect which is always great.

Joe is a Looper in the future. Further into the future from where Joe exists, time travel has been invented, but it is extremely illegal. The only people who use it are criminal organizations who send back the people they want dead thirty years to a looper who promptly kills and disposes of the body, which doesn't technically exist yet. A pretty genius concept. There's a guy called the Rainman in 2074 who is closing all the loops though, which means sending the future self of each looper back to get killed by themselves. When Joe's future self arrives in the past, he escapes from his past self and now both Joe's are on the run from the boss. It definitely sounds more complicated than it really is which is a testament to the tremendous directing job of Rian Johnson who allows the film to be clear and not confusing.

There's a great cast at work here. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis both play Joe and both bring a nice mix up of tone to the film. Emily Blunt, one of my favorite actresses, is great as a rural farm owner who must protect her child. Jeff Daniels has a great, smaller role as the crime boss Abe. And Paul Dano has a very brief, but altogether great role as a looper who makes the same mistake Joe does.

This is an absolute can't miss. I was completely blown away by the originality and brain of the movie. I can't recommend it enough. If you're at all a fan of time travel movies, this one is sure to be a new favorite in the sub genre. 
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
September 4, 2013
The key when making time travel films is to balance the cerebral and the visceral. Stories about time travel need to be entertaining, but they also have to work on an intellectual level, to make the most of an interesting concept. If you can't get them to be totally seamless, the next best thing is to make the film so fast-paced and entertaining that we can overlook any small inconsistencies and enjoy it as a series of ideas. Into this box we can now add Looper, which confirms Rian Johnson's status as one to watch.

It isn't too hard to spot all the films to which Looper owes even a passing debt. Johnson's other features, Brick and The Brothers Bloom, have demonstrated how cine-literate he is as a film-maker. He was inspired to become a director after watching Annie Hall, claiming to be fascinated by the different rules of film genres and how Woody Allen's film effortlessly broke so many of them. His affection for the medium shows through in everything he does, and he makes no bones about being in familiar territory.

The biggest touchstone for the film is Twelve Monkeys, Terry Gilliam's seminal sci-fi thriller which set the bar extremely high for time travel stories in the post-Back to the Future age. The comparison doesn't stop with the presence of Bruce Willis (who was at his career-best in Gilliam's film), since the films pitch the relationship between the main character's past and future self on similar levels. Both films play on the idea of changing memories within a time-loop structure, and both are essentially fatalistic, acknowledging that time travel stories are largely cautionary tales, filled with despair, loneliness and self-annihilation.

While Twelve Monkeys serves as the anchor or predecessor for many of the film's ideas, it is by no means the only film to which the narrative owes a debt. Joe's plight is similar to Captain John Anderton's in Minority Report: he goes on the run after the system he has lived by starts targeting him, with everything appearing normal to his colleagues. Cid's characterisation owes a lot to both The Omen and The Fury, with Johnson drawing on the 'demon child' archetype presented in the former and referencing the final scene of the latter in the death of Jesse.

Elsewhere there are visual nods to The Terminator in the later stages (particularly the image of the older Joe relentlessly pursuing Cid) and to Timecrimes with multiple versions of the same protagonist wandering around, just missing each other's movements. Looper is visually the most mainstream-looking film that Johnson has directed thus far, having the same glossy sheen as Source Code or any Christopher Nolan film. You could even argue that Nolan is a narrative influence: the film contains elements of both Memento and Inception in how one version of the protagonist creates or destroys the memories of the other.

While we are clearly in familiar territory, Looper does raise a number of interesting ideas which are either unique or put an interesting new twist on ideas raised on other, similar films. For starters, it presents a very clever inversion of the grandfather paradox - the idea that if you went back in time and killed your own grandfather, you would cease to exist, meaning that you could not have travelled back in the first place. Examples of this are present throughout the Back to the Future trilogy: in the first film Marty almost ceases to exist because he nearly prevents his mother and father from getting together.

The fate of the loopers is an inversion of this, since they are asked to kill their future self, thereby preventing an immediate paradox and "closing their loop". This creates an immediate difference in demeanour: people subject to the grandfather paradox often live in fear or panic, while the ex-loopers party and celebrate being released. Theirs is not an existential despair, but an empty hedonistic rush; they know they will die one day, and there's no point saving or being cautious in the meantime. Joe begins the story saving up his silver bars, but by the time he has grown old he has partied wild and found the woman of his dreams.

This latter development sets in motion events around the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies. Bruce Willis' love for his wife leads him on a path of revenge, which manifests in his desire to find and kill the child who will become the Rainmaker. But in attempting to do so, he causes the events that will bring about the Rainmaker in the first place, specifically Cid witnessing the death of Sara.

This is where Looper treads closest to Twelve Monkeys, since both Joe and Cole seem unable to stop either their own deaths or the great catastrophe that will befall mankind. Both films (up to a point) obey the terms of the Novikov self-consistency principle, which states simply that any event that could cause a paradox cannot occur, and therefore time travel cannot alter anything. But while Twelve Monkeys followed through to the end with a haunting final scene, Looper pulls out and gives us a happy ending which undoes a lot of its logic. Its ending is technically impossible, undoing much of what has gone before and thereby reducing the chance of that ending happening in the first place.

The film is also interested in the importance of parents in the formative years of children. It's easy to overplay this and reduce the film down to a treatise on parenthood, just as you cannot reduce We Need To Talk About Kevin down to the words "parents, discipline your children". Johnson contrasts Cid's careful upbringing by Sara with that of Joe, who was sold to gangsters at a very young age; he presents both parties as having some degree of dysfunction, contrasting their different methods of protection and prevention. There is also, on the sidelines, an interesting surrogate father-son relationship between Jeff Daniels' character and Joe's gun-toting rival.

Looper conveys all these interesting ideas through an intelligent and well-written script. Johnson handles the themes smartly and treats his audience like rational human beings, who don't need the entire mechanics of time travel spelled out every thirty seconds. He keeps the characters at the forefront of the story, so that we spend less time figuring out how all the strands fit together and more on the emotional response of the individuals. This ensures that we always go with the story even when things aren't resolved or make a great deal of sense.

Johnson is also confident enough to make his characters morally ambiguous. Each of the characters have a very good reason for doing what they do, and we find ourselves conflicted about which version of Joe is doing the right thing, both for himself and everyone else. Each of the main characters undergoes a little soul-searching where they question what they are doing - Bruce Willis, for instance, pictures his wife and openly weeps when he is killing the children in his search for the Rainmaker.

Not only can Johnson write well, but his direction is highly entertaining. Looper is very fast-paced, with a good balance of action and drama: after the opening exposition dump, it zips along very nicely and tells its story with great efficiency. The action scenes occasionally feel too standard: Willis' machine-gunning everyone down feels like a leftover from the Die Hard films. But the film makes up for this with good special effects and some very effective make-up to make us believe that Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt could be related.

The performances in Looper are generally very good. WIllis and Gordon-Levitt are very convincing as the different versions of Joe, and even without the accurate make-up they spark off each other, especially in the diner scene. Emily Blunt continues to impress in roles that require a blend of steeliness and vulnerability; she has more to work with here than in The Adjustment Bureau and has great screen presence. Unfortunately, the film also confirms how annoying Paul Dano is an actor. He seems incapable of playing anything other than mopey teenagers or whingers, and Johnson is very wise to kill him off early.

Looper is a really entertaining sci-fi action thriller which demonstrates Johnson's great skill as a director. Its time travel logic and causality don't entirely hold up to scrutiny, but it has more than enough interesting ideas and emotional depth to carry it through, thanks to good writing and a very efficient hand behind the camera. It's no Twelve Monkeys, make no mistake, but until we get another of those it will do quite nicely.
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2013
Unique concept, thoroughly enjoyable and one not to be missed!
Super Reviewer
½ August 23, 2013
This sort of flicks aren't my cup of tea, so as usual, I passed it over. But I ended up giving it a go, thanks to my sibling. Indeed, it's not a disappointment.
Super Reviewer
August 20, 2013
Got a bit bogged down with action but I really enjoyed it anyways. Time travel with a slightly different and refreshing spin.
Super Reviewer
½ April 14, 2012
I got some enjoyment from The Brothers Bloom, but compared to what else he's done, I feel like it's Rian Johnson's weakest effort since it doesn't really innovate or elevate the genre it's apart of, or in the world of cinema in general.

Thankfully, this, his third film, gets him back on track.

In the future, time travel is invented, but almost immediately outlawed. It's primarily used in secret by the organized crime syndicates who, having trouble killing people in the future, send those they want gotten rid of 30 years back into the past where they are killed by hired guns known as loopers.

The film follows a looper named Joe who is really good at his job, and is saving up for a nice future for himself. Things get complicated when one of the people that he is sent to kill turns out to be his future self. Now, in the world of the film, this is actually a routine part of the job. The problems arise when Old Joe escapes from his younger self, who is then forced to chase down himself, as well as fend off the hired goons sent in to take care of his failure to eliminate the target.

This is basically a crazy chase movie with a fun tweak on a classic high concept. The film isn't really concerned with the mechanics and logistics of time travel, but is instead focused more on characters, and the repercussions of some big ideas.

It's a pretty solid piece of work, though things do slow down during the middle, and the inclusion of telekinesis does kinda stick out some, but overall, this is some gloriously compelling and stellar stuff.

The film's look is primarily more retro than off-the-wall futuristic, and that's cool. I like the grimy aesthetic mixed in with some sleekness. It makes the film seems more rooted into how the future will actually be, and I like that, even though we've seen this kind of thing before.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and a good dose of prosthetic work) are great as Joe. Even better is Bruce Willis as Old Joe. The two play off one another quite well, and I loved how JG-L really had his work cut out for him in order to sell that he's a younger version of Bruce. Thankfully, he does a decently admirable job. Emily Blunt is fine as are Jeff Daniels (menacing creep), and Noah Sagen (ditto). Strong character actors like Garrett Dillahunt and Paul Dano are here as well, and, while they do contribute, I think they could have been better used.

The film is well shot and edited, the effects are pretty neat ,and overall this is a very clever little gem. Yeah, if you focus on it too much, things get problematic, but the point is not to look at the details, just the big picture. Definitely see this one. It's pretty awesome, and strengthens the case for why Rian Johnson needs to be more prolific as a director.
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2012
This action film from sensational director/writer Rian Johnson not only makes a new play for one of the best time travel movies of the year, but of all time. That's difficult to do when most of what makes your film especially interesting and entertaining is that you don't focus primarily on what it's trying to do with the time travel. More or less this is a character driven film, and everything that happens in said film emanates from what makes the characters tick. A lot of comparisons can easily be drawn to James Cameron's "The Terminator," because both of these films focus on the future role of a present mother-son bond, both deal with the destruction of life, and both ask what you would be willing to do to ensure a happy future for yourself. Though it's not the action packed thrill ride many expected, it is action filled, gory, and despicably grotesque at times, especially when showing torture. There aren't many explosions, but there are some deaths, and of course the effects are mind boggling and yet simple. Though Gordon-Levitt does wear prosthetics to mask his face and delve into the role of a younger Willis, you forget that it's fake, which is probably what he was going for as he melds with the character so well. Really what makes this film so explosively great is not the effects or sci-fi premise, but actually how brilliant the ending is. It brings the entire movie full circle, and makes you understand the pain and trauma that can occur when someone gets greedy with their own happiness and denies someone else's. It just seems so poignant and perfect, and especially with the time travel angle, it seems obviously fitting. The one thing that bothers me is that you can see part of the story coming pretty quickly, and it doesn't help that Noah Segan gives a particularly creepy performance. This film, though riddled with somewhat gimmicky choices, fits right into the conventions of classic films without being all too stale.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2012
In a future where time travel has been invented and outlawed, it is used solely by a criminal organisation who use it to "disappear" undesirables into the past where they are disposed of by hired killers called "loopers". I was very much looking forward to Rian Johnson's foray into science fiction, being a big fan of his two previous films both of which were similar genre homages. Sci fi is a rather more difficult nut to crack however, as most of the concepts it employs can be traced back to a few key examples. In this case, the comparisons to The Terminator in particular, Twelve Monkeys and Blade Runner are obvious making Looper feel a little too referential in way that Brick and The Brothers Bloom avoided. It could also be argued that its monicker could just as easily refer to the many loop holes in the plot which, like many other time-travel conundrums, do not really stand up to logical scrutiny. But taken at face value Looper has a lot to offer; the cast are all great and its bizarre how convincing JGL is as a young Bruce Willis (his conspicuous ladyboy eyebrows notwithstanding). There are also some fine action sequences and the twisting plot keeps you guessing making for a very entertaining diversion. It could have been excellent if the pay off had felt more rewarding - the first half of the film is far stronger as the overly lengthy scenes at the farmhouse compromise the pacing and the conclusion felt a little unconvincing - but as whole its a quality first stab at an intelligent sci fi pot boiler and far better than anything M. Night Shyamalan has done since The Sixth Sense.
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2013
I really liked the special effects sequences and how they moulded together with the story. The movie has enough going for it, but might be a bit complicated for some audiences.
Super Reviewer
September 28, 2012
The idea feels original, and I enjoyed the film's style. I found it exciting most of the way, and I especially appreciated the conclusion, which took a different tack than the vast majority of action movies (spoiler alert?) in the way it depicted characters breaking the cycle of violence. It was particularly strange, for me, that I watched this movie around the same time as the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., as the film is somewhat interested in what we teach our children about violence. I wondered if over time, the film might come to be linked to the event, or at least, to the stricter gun control laws that (I hope) will come of it. But never mind the politics: this an unorthodox action movie, the enjoyment of which is only slightly diminished by the miscasting of Emily Blunt and some weird makeup on Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Definitely worth seeing, I really liked it.
Super Reviewer
October 7, 2012
Well-acted with good CGI. People into the genre will anticipate the end...and will be irked by the logical inconsistencies therein. Still, a fun film if you aren't too thoughful about it. Sadly, this is not one of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's best performances. But then again, even bad Gordon-Levitt is good.
Super Reviewer
½ March 8, 2013
Nothing here thqt impressed me. 2 1/2 stars 3-5-13
Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2013
This is a good time travel thriller. It didn't have as much action as I was expecting, but the story is good and the special effects are done well and not over used for the sake of it. A well made enjoyable film that for once deserved some of the hype.
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