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Looper (**)
directed by Rian Johnson
written by Rian Johnson
Principal Cast
Joseph Gordon-Levitt -- Joe
Bruce Willis -- Old Joe
Emily Blunt -- Sara
Paul Dano -- Seth
Noah Segan -- Kid Blue
Piper Perabo -- Suzie
Jeff Daniels -- Abe
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Looper is an original but flawed time travel movie. A number of mainstream reviewers have found it hard to understand. SF readers familiar with Robert A. Heinlein's "All You Zombies" will find the time loops in this film elementary.

H.G. Wells once advised science fiction writers to stick to one impossible idea at a time. If you have a story about flying pigs, don't add flying broomsticks. Looper has two science fiction ideas, time travel and telekinesis. The scriptwriter seems to forget about one while dealing with the other.

I don't usually describe the plot of the films I review, because I don't like anyone to tell me the plot of a movie before I see it. In this case I make an exception, because the plot is both the main strength and the main weakness of the film.

spoiler alert

Stop reading if you have not seen Looper.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a small-time criminal and drug addict. He is recruited by a man from the future to become a Looper, a hit-man. It seems that in the future it is impossible to get away with murder, and so potential victims must be sent into the past (the Looper's present) to be killed. Time travel is only shown going one way, from the future into the past. When you outlaw time travel, only criminals will have time machines.

The Loopers are called Loopers because, after 30 years, their future selves are sent back in time to be killed by their past selves. It's called closing the loop. Why they have to do this is never very clear, but it is the core idea of the whole film, so we go with it.

Now comes the second impossible thing. A number of people have telekinetic powers.

Here I begin to have serious problems with the film. The only thing we see telekinesis being used for (until the very end of the film) is levitating coins. I can think of a lot of better things to do with telekinesis. How about clearing blood clots without surgery? I can also think of a lot better things to do with time travel. Buy stock in Facebook. But the future crime lords are never shown using time travel for anything but assassination.

On with the story. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character grows up to be one played by Bruce Willis. When Gordon-Levitt is about to close the loop on Willis, the time stream splits in two. In one future, Willis escapes. In the other future, Willis dies. In the stream where Willis dies, Gordon-Levitt continues as a petty criminal and drug addict for about thirty years, at which point he is Bruce Willis. Then, Bruce Willis is saved by the love of a good woman. They start to live happily ever after, when the time to close the loop rolls around. The mob kills the woman Willis loves and sends Willis back in time.

Wait just a mother-fuckin' minute! They kill the woman? I thought the whole premise of the movie was that you couldn't get away with murder in the future.

Meanwhile, in the other time stream, when Bruce Willis is sent back to the past, he is not killed. He escapes, and decides to save his girl friend by killing the mob boss before the mob boss has a chance to grow up.

Now comes my favorite scene in the whole film. Willis and Gordon-Levitt sit down in a diner and talk. They are so busy talking they never eat any of the food put in front of them, which is just as well because the waitress never brings them any silverware. Gordon-Levitt wants to talk about time paradoxes. Bruce Willis tells him not to bother. It will only confuse everybody. Good call.

Now we switch over to the telekinesis plot. The little kid who will grow up to be the mob boss has telekinetic powers an order of magnitude greater than anybody else. Gordon-Levitt likes the kid, also the kid's mom, and decides to save them from Willis. But the kid has trouble controlling his powers and sometimes kills people when his powers get out of hand.

big spoiler alert

Gordon-Levitt is saved from a life of petty crime and drug addiction by the love of a good woman (and a little kid). At the end of the movie (if you ignored the earlier spoiler alert, pay attention to this one. Really stop reading if you have not seen Looper.) Gordon-Levitt kills himself. This destroys Bruce Willis and saves the kid. Then, thanks to the love of a good woman, the kid doesn't grow up to be a mob boss after all.

The End.

Copyright © 2012 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon. Visit his web site at

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