Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews Rian Johnson's time-travel action thriller, Looper, in The Washington Times:
In an age of one-note — and no-note — action films, "Looper" is a rarity: a slick, neatly conceived high-concept thriller with a few too many interesting ideas.
That's a pleasure for moviegoers looking for a slightly unusual conceptual mashup. But it also turns out to be a problem when the film doesn't quite know what to do with all the ideas it has.
"Looper" begins in an economically depressed near-future world in which extreme wealth exists next to serious poverty. Major cities are overrun with vagrancy. Telekinetic mutations have developed in much of the population, but few can manage to do more than levitate a quarter.
Time-travel is on the horizon, but it won't be invented for another 30 years. The organized criminals of the future, however, have decided that the easiest way to do their dirty work is to send it to the past: Anyone the future mob wants to off is sent back in time to be blasted at close range by a looper, who is paid handsomely to execute and dispose of unwanted future persons.
Sometimes those persons turn out to be former loopers who are sent back to be executed by their younger selves. The "loop is closed," and the looper gets a big retirement payday — free to do what he wants with his life, at least until the day comes when he's sent back to be murdered by his younger self.
That's exactly what happens to Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a looper who one day finds himself staring down an older version of himself (Bruce Willis) who does not intend to die at the hands of his past.