It’s 2044 somewhere in America. Time travel has not yet been invented, but it will be by 2074. As soon as it’s invented it is made illegal. As with all prohibition, once something is illegal, it’s only accessible through crime and the mob. Gangsters in 2074 are as unimaginative as they are today, and the best use of an amazing technology like time travel they can come up with is disposal of enemies of the mob.
It appears that time travel is unidirectional; you can only go backwards. It also appears that you can only do it once. Once you are in the past, you are stuck there. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a time traveler, who came from 2074, sent by the bad guys to 2044. He is called a looper.
When the time comes, he drives an old pickup track out to the fields, spreads a plastic dropcloth and watches for the exact time for the stiff to arrive. The victim is sent back with a hood over his face. This way, neither the victim knows what’s happening, nor does the killer know the identity of the victim. At the predetermined time, out of thin air, the victim materializes. Joe stands there, shotgun aimed, and a split second after the victim appears he is killed and soon disposed of in an incinerator.
The loopers otherwise live normal lives. They grow old like all of us, and within 30 years they catch up to 2074, the time their younger selves left. At that time, the bad guys round up the loopers, and send THEM back in time once more, to be killed themselves. That’s called “closing the loop.”
When Joe reaches that age, he is Old Joe (Bruce Willis). Sure enough, one day Old Joe get gets rounded up by the mob and sent back in time.
There is a scene when Joe sits in a diner with Old Joe having a conversation about their shared life. As you might expect, things start getting very complicated.
Looper is a meticulously plotted time travel movie, which does not get caught up in the paradoxes of time travel, but uses them to build the story. 2044 (and 2074) is a wasteland, not much distinguishable from urban slums of today, except for the occasional strange machines like floating motorcycles. I enjoyed the movie, except for the endless and graphic violence. There was a lot of shooting going on, and the guns in this movie are LOUD. It’s a movie where just about all the characters are killers and therefore shooters.
Of course, there are a lot of loose ends, like why does Joe after looping, as he grows into Old Joe, not ever meet up with Young Joe before he looped? They were both there togther in the future world, and the growing Old Joe would have known about young boy Joe. But that’s outside of the plot of this movie – I just can’t help myself.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the TKs, or telekinesists, who can move objects with their minds and use that amazing skill to pick up chicks by floating quarters in bars.
Rating: ** 1/2