“Time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but in 30 years time it will…”
We are in the year 2044 – and when Joe (a made-over Joseph Gordon Levitt) says 30 years from now, what he means is 2074. See, Joe does not travel through time, but his victims do. They’re sent back by the mob already prepped – bound and hooded – to be disposed of by the loopers like him, who have the advantage of living in less digitally documented times, and who buy 30 years of luxury in return for their services.
Johnson’s third film – which draws on The Terminator, La Jetee and Twelve Monkeys – keeps us happily confused. It’s fun being flummoxed, and he has a knack of pulling off short, snappy scenes that keep the drama percolating (the excellent supporting cast, including Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels and Noah Segan, also helps). The only time concept he’s worried about is running time – which ensures Looper is taut and tight, if not exactly transparent.
He leaves us with more stimulating questions than plot quibbles: probing riddles about where evil comes from, about fathers and sons, violence and redemption… About what might compel someone to make the ultimate sacrifice and who holds the moral high ground when you’re in a mortal argument with your older self? Yes, it’s a B movie sci-fi thriller, but not many prestige pictures have this much going on underneath the surface.
A scintillating neo-noir gem of existential quandaries and inescapable fatalism.
Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
A mind-bending ride that is not afraid to slow down now and again, to explore themes of regret and redemption, solitude and sacrifice, love and loss. It’s a movie worth seeing and, perhaps, going back to see again.
Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
This is a hugely satisfying, enjoyable and thought-provoking piece of work.
Tom Huddleston, Time Out
Julie Goldstein, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Douglas E. Hansen, Dan Mintz, Peter Schlessel, Bing Wu, Peter Wenge Xiao
Ram Bergman, James D. Stern
Also in This Series
Daniel Craig is a hoot as debonair southern detective Benoit Blanc, called in to unravel the mysterious death of veteran crime writer Harlan Thrombey. As is so often the case, Harlan's inheritance furnishes his entire extended family with ample motive.
After resurrecting the classic whodunnit with Knives Out, writer-director Rian Johnson set himself the task of bringing the genre up to date with the lavish sequel, which is as much a satire as it is a murder mystery. Not that it is any less fiendish.