JAMES MITCHELL gets looped up in paradoxes trying to review Looper.


Directed by Rian Johnson

I know what you’re thinking: God save us from another time-travelling, send ’em back to the past and re-shape the future type film. We’ve had the Terminator and Back to the Future series. Surely there can’t really be anything original to offer, can there?

Well, as it happens, there may be a bit more mileage in this genre. Certainly Looper has its shortcomings, but there are plenty of original twists in this film to keep it interesting.

The world of Looper, dreamt up by exciting new directorial talent Rian Johnson, is a well-crafted creation. Set in 2044, it portrays a not too distant and rather believable future. The majority of the population apparently get their kicks from squeezing opiates into their eyeballs – and the latest iPhone offering is thinner than a sheet of paper (no word on whether they managed to fix the maps app though).

The premise is simple. Even further in the future (2074) it has (will) become practically impossible to murder without being held to account. Bad news indeed for ‘the mob’. However, time-travel is (will be) available, so the obvious solution is (will be) to send the victim back in time to be killed without trace in 2044.

The plot is based around a team of 2044 vintage “Loopers” who are tasked with assassinating those sent back thirty years though time by the murderous mob.

This is all perfectly straightforward so far – but can you imagine the problems that might arise should the mob wish to ‘retire’ (without trace) any of their 2044 Loopers who make it through the 30 intervening years to 2074! How would you react, as a young and enthusiastic Looper faced with your future self as a target?


As with all time-travelling science fiction yarns, there are massive logical and paradoxical gaps. In my view Rian Johnson does the right thing here and doesn’t try too hard to provide a detailed (or indeed any) explanation.  For example, Bruce Willis’ character, when pressed on the subject of time travel by his obnoxious younger self, aggressively asserts that it is far too confusing to warrant discussion. Brilliant.

That said, the acting performances are stellar. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the hardest working man in Hollywood, is barely recognizable beneath a face full of prosthetics. Cast as a younger version of Bruce Willis, he manages to mirror mannerisms that the Die Hard veteran probably didn’t even realize he had. Willis himself is as reliable as ever, his brooding persona perfectly suited to the tone of the film. The supremely versatile Emily Blunt also makes a convincing American mother.

This entertaining but lightweight film lacks the originality, focus and innovation to become a classic. This is not, then, a science fiction film to be compared with those from the Andy Wachowski, Stanley Kubrick or James Cameron stables. It’s more of a big budget Doctor Who on steroids. But since the film doesn’t attempt to be clever, it doesn’t really matter.  It’s an unpretentious, fast paced, bit of scientific nonsense that does its job of entertaining the punter for a couple of hours.

To conclude, this film is definitely worth a watch – just leave your physics books at home.