Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rian Johnson|
|Written by||Rian Johnson|
|Music by||Nathan Johnson|
|Editing by||Bob Ducsay|
|Running time||118 minutes|
Looper is a 2012 American science fiction thriller film. The film stars Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. The film was directed and written by Rian Johnson. The film's tag line reads: "Hunted by your future. Haunted by your past."
In Looper, time travel is invented by the year 2074 and, though immediately outlawed, is used by criminal organizations to send those they want killed into the past where they are killed by "loopers", assassins paid with silver bars strapped to their targets. Joe, a looper, encounters himself when his older self is sent back in time to be killed.
Looper was selected as the opening film of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. It was released to positive reviews in Australia on September 27, 2012, and in the US and the UK on September 28, 2012 by TriStar Pictures and Alliance Films.
In the year 2044, 25-year-old Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for a Kansas City crime syndicate as a "looper." Led by a man sent from the future named Abe (Daniels), loopers kill and dispose of victims sent back in time and are paid with bars of silver strapped to the target, whose face is hidden by a bag. When a looper is retired, the looper's future self is sent back from exactly thirty years in the future as his target, but with gold bars. This event is referred to as "closing the loop."
One night, Seth (Dano), Joe's best friend and fellow looper, tells him that he has failed to close his own loop, and that his future self (Frank Brennan) warned him of a mysterious person called the Rainmaker, who has somehow overthrown the five major crime bosses all by himself and is busy ending all of the loopers' contracts in 2074. Joe reluctantly hides Seth in his apartment's secret floor safe, but the place is searched and Joe is taken to Abe by Kid Blue (Segan). Given the choice of revealing Seth's hiding place or forfeiting half of the silver he has hoarded, Joe betrays Seth. The syndicate starts mutilating Seth, knowing that the injuries will be propagated to his older self. They cut an address into Seth's arm, then begin removing parts of his body, causing the older Seth to go to the address, where he is killed.
Joe's next target is late. When he does arrive, his hands are untied and his head is bare. It is Joe's older self (Bruce Willis). Before Joe shoots, the man turns around so the bullet strikes the gold bars strapped to his back. Old Joe throws a bar, then knocks the younger man out and escapes. When Young Joe recovers, he returns to his apartment, where there is a fight with Kid Blue and a Gat Man in which Young Joe falls off of the fire escape. The screen goes black immediately as Young Joe is knocked unconscious.
A different and possibly earlier timeline shows Young Joe back in the field waiting for Old Joe to appear. This time, Young Joe does close his loop, shooting his older self in the chest who has his head covered by a bag. He retires to Shanghai, where he falls in love and marries his wife (Xu). After his thirty years elapse, Joe is taken to close the loop, but his wife is killed in the process. Overpowering his captors, Joe sends himself back to 2044. After fighting his younger self, he makes his way back into the city. Seeing his younger self fall from his apartment, he drags his unconscious body to a safe location.
Later, meeting his younger self, Old Joe explains he is going to kill the Rainmaker as a child to change the future and save his wife. Young Joe tries but fails again to close his loop. Then Kid Blue and other men working for Abe show up, and a gunfight ensues. Young Joe ends up with a corner of Old Joe's map, which contains one of three locations circled on the map and a number.
Young Joe heads to the marked place, a farm where Sara (Emily Blunt) and her young son Cid (Pierce) live. Sara distrusts him at first, but gradually warms to him. When Joe shows Sara the map, she recognizes the number as Cid's birthday along with the code of the hospital where he was born. Joe guesses old Joe is going to kill all three children born that day, not knowing which one will become the Rainmaker. Joe decides to wait at the farm for his older self.
Joe soon learns that Cid is telekinetic (as is about 10% of the population) of exceptional power, and that Sara gave Cid to her sister to raise until she was accidentally killed by Cid.
One morning, Jesse (Dillahunt), one of Abe's thugs, comes looking for both Joes. He returns later and threatens Sara. Cid falls down the stairs and becomes angry, which triggers an extraordinarily powerful telekinetic blast that kills Jesse, revealing that Cid is the future Rainmaker.
Meanwhile, Kid Blue captures Old Joe and takes him to Abe. Old Joe breaks free and kills Abe and many of his men, though Kid Blue is only wounded. Old Joe then travels to Sara's farm. While Young Joe shoots it out with Kid Blue, Old Joe pursues Sara and Cid. Cid creates another telekinetic blast, but before he can kill Old Joe (suspended in mid-air), Sara manages to calm him down. Then, telling Cid to run into the cane field, Sara stands in Old Joe's line of sight to shield her son. Young Joe realizes that his older self will shoot Sara and fill Cid with the anger which will mold him into the Rainmaker. Too far away to prevent it, he instead kills himself, thus erasing Old Joe, saving Sara, leaving her all the silver and gold from a truck future Joe used to get to the farm and potentially saving Cid from becoming the Rainmaker.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe
- Bruce Willis as Old Joe
- Emily Blunt as Sara
- Paul Dano as Seth
- Noah Segan as Kid Blue
- Piper Perabo as Suzie
- Jeff Daniels as Abe
- Pierce Gagnon as Cid
- Xu Qing as Old Joe's Wife
- Tracie Thoms as Beatrix
- Frank Brennan as Old Seth
- Garret Dillahunt as Jesse
- Nick Gomez as Dale
- Marcus Hester as Zach
- Dikran Tulaine as Officer Timothy Kennedy (deleted scene)
Looper was written and directed by Rian Johnson. After Johnson released The Brothers Bloom in 2008, he re-teamed with producer Ram Bergman, who produced Johnson's previous two films, with the goal of starting production of Looper in 2009. In May 2010, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was cast in one of the lead roles, which he would play after completing Premium Rush. Later in the month, Bruce Willis was also cast. In the following October, Emily Blunt joined Gordon-Levitt and Willis. Noah Segan, Jeff Daniels, and Piper Perabo were cast in January 2011. Filming began in Louisiana on January 24, 2011.
Makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji created the prosthetics that Gordon-Levitt wore in the film so that he would physically resemble Willis. The film's score was composed by Nathan Johnson, Rian Johnson's cousin.
Talking about Looper and time travel in film, Rian Johnson said:
Even though it's a time-travel movie, the pleasure of it doesn't come from the mass of time travel. It's not a film like Primer, for instance, where the big part of the enjoyment is kind of working out all the intricacies of it. For Looper, I very much wanted it to be a more character-based movie that is more about how these characters dealt with the situation time travel has brought about. So the biggest challenge was figuring out how to not spend the whole movie explaining the rules and figure out how to put it out there in a way that made sense on some intuitive level for the audience; then get past it and deal with the real meat of the story.
Looper premiered on September 6, 2012 at the opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival. The film was then released theatrically in the United States on September 28, 2012. The film's studio Endgame Entertainment negotiated a deal with FilmDistrict at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011, for FilmDistrict to release the film in the United States through TriStar Pictures.
The Chinese release of the film reintegrates a substantial number of scenes set in Shanghai that were edited out due to pacing reasons. The move was requested by Chinese production company DMG Entertainment in order to further appeal to Chinese audiences.
Johnson released a free audio commentary on SoundCloud to be downloaded and listened to during the film, with the warning: "Needless to say, this is NOT to be listened to on a first viewing, or before you've seen the film."
Home media 
The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD in North America on December 31, 2012. The film will also be released on January 28, 2013 in online UK stores and a general release on February 4, 2013. The US iTunes store released the film on December 21, 2012 to own in HD and SD forms as part of an early release deal it has on certain films.
Critical response 
Looper holds a 93% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 241 reviews and an average score of 8.1/10, with the reported consensus: "As thought-provoking as it is thrilling, Looper delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action." On Metacritic, the film holds an 84/100 average rating based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Toronto International Film Festival 
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, calling it "an engaging, neatly worked-out time-travel sci-fi thriller", but also criticizing the effects involved in making Gordon-Levitt resemble Willis: "At first, the effect is a bit odd, and you can't quite put your finger on what's off; then it feels downright weird to be looking at a version of Gordon-Levitt who is no longer the actor you've known for a few years now."
Peter Debruge of Variety also gave the film a positive review, writing that writer-director Johnson's "grandly conceived, impressively mounted third feature shows a giddy, geeky interest in science-fiction, then forces it into the back seat and lets the multidimensional characters drive. In a genre infamous for loose ends, this thinking man's thriller marshals action, romance and a dose of very dark comedy toward a stunning payoff."
General release 
Kim Newman of Empire magazine gave Looper 5 stars out of 5, writing, "Intelligent science-fiction sometimes seems an endangered species—too much physics and there's a risk of creating something cold and remote, too many explosions and get lost in the multiplex. Looper isn't perfect, but it pulls off the full Wizard Of Oz: it has a brain, courage and a heart." Noel Murray of The A.V. Club gave the film an A− grade, writing, "Looper is a remarkable feat of imagination and execution, entertaining from start to finish, even as it asks the audience to contemplate how and why humanity keeps making the same rotten mistakes." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, writing, "Looper is way inventive but it wears its creativity lightly, like it's no big deal. This is a highflying, super-stylish science-fiction thriller that brings a fresh approach to mind-bending genre material. We're not always sure where this time-travel film is going, but we wouldn't dream of abandoning the ride."
Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, writing, "Looper's heady blend of time travel, gritty action and a jot of romance is such a thrilling and cerebral mind-bender that it will likely have moviegoers gathering outside the theater afterward to hash out details of its intricately constructed universe. Not that that's a bad thing." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, praising the performances of Willis and Gordon-Levitt and concluding, "Lacing tremendously exciting action with touching gravity, Looper hits you like a shot in the heart." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times also gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, praising its screenplay and writing, "Looper, a smart and tricky sci-fi story, sidesteps the paradoxes of time travel by embracing them. Most time travel movies run into trouble in the final scenes, when impossibilities pile up one upon another. This film leads to a startling conclusion that wipes out the story's paradoxes so neatly it's as if it never happened."
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+ grade, writing, "The time swivels in Looper evoke some of Inception's fancy temporal tricks (some of which, of course, also involved Gordon-Levitt straddling multiple time zones at once). But it's the glimpses of Children of Men-like societal dystopia that give the movie its real weight". Keith Staskiewicz, also writing for Entertainment Weekly (reviewing the DVD) and also giving a "B+", said, "The film's premise is markedly inventive, and [writer-director Rian] Johnson spends a lot of time making his universe seem lived-in and believable, but he's not just concerned with whiz-bang what-ifs. The showdown of selves illuminates just how little Gordon-Levitt's character has changed over the intervening years, stuck as he is in a feedback loop of drug use and violence despite his pipe dream of moving to Europe. The retro trench coats and firearms also suggest a sort of eternal recurrence, and as Looper's plot gets more complex, its central question simplifies: If we can't fix our mistakes, can we at least make sure we don't repeat the same ones over and over again?"
Richard Corliss of Time magazine gave the film a positive review, calling Looper a "hybrid, mashing Quentin Tarantino and Philip K. Dick into a species of pulp science fiction" and also writing, "A fanciful film with the patina of hyper-realism, Looper is well served by actors who behave not as if they were dropped carelessly into the future but spent their whole desperate lives there." Dana Stevens of Slate gave the film a mixed review, writing, "Looper felt to me like a maddening near-miss: It posits an impossible but fascinating-to-imagine relationship – a face-to-face encounter between one's present and future self, in which each self must account for its betrayal of the other – and then throws away nearly all the dramatic potential that relationship offers."
Awards and nominations 
Top ten lists 
The film was included in the following top ten lists for the best films of 2012:
|New York Post||8|
|The Huffington Post||10|
|The Atlantic Wire||N/A|
- "Looper". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
- Kaufman, Amy (September 27, 2012). "Animated 'Hotel Transylvania' to scare off 'Looper'". Los Angeles Times.
- "Looper". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- "Australians to see Looper a day before the rest of the world". August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
- "US Release Date". June 9, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- "UK Release Date". June 27, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
- Zeitchik, Steven (September 17, 2008). "Rian Johnson's future target: 'Looper'". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Kit, Borys (May 4, 2010). "Joseph Gordon-Levitt eyes two action thrillers". Reuters.
- Fleming, Mike (May 14, 2010). "CANNES: Bruce Willis Plays Mature Joseph Gordon-Levitt In Time Travel Pic 'Looper'". Deadline.com.
- McNary, Dave (October 1, 2010). "Emily Blunt set for 'Looper'". Variety.
- McNary, Dave; Coonan, Clifford (January 21, 2011). "Actors in 'Looper' group". Variety.
- "Official Looper production blog".[verification needed]
- Whipp, Glenn (August 31, 2012). "'Looper': Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson are a tight team". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
- Kit, Borys (September 27, 2012). "'Looper' Director Rian Johnson on Reuniting With Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tackling Time Travel and His Love of 'Inception' (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Vlessing, Elan (September 6, 2012). "Toronto 2012: 'Looper's' Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt Bring Star Power on Opening Night". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- McClintock, Pamela (September 29, 2012). "Box Office Report: 'Hotel Transylvania' Wins Friday, Headed For Record $38 Mil-Plus Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- McNary, Dave (May 14, 2011). "TriStar, FilmDistrict set 'Looper' deal". Variety.
- Zeitchik, Steven (June 19, 2012). "A more Sino-centric version of 'Looper' will be released in China". Los Angeles Times.
- "Looper Theatrical Commentary Track". SoundCloud. 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- "LOOPER DVD release date". February 27, 2013.
- "Looper Blu-ray Release Date, Details and Cover Art". TheHDRoom.com. November 19, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "Looper Blu-ray release announced". Blu-raydisc-reporter.com. November 7, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "Looper". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- "Looper Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- Mottram, James (September 6, 2012). "Looper review". Total Film. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- McCarthy, Todd (September 6, 2012). "Looper: Toronto Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Debruge, Peter (September 6, 2012). "Looper". Variety. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Newman, Kim (September 17, 2012). "Looper". Empire. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Murray, Noel (September 27, 2012). "Looper". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Turan, Kenneth (September 27, 2012). "Review: Gordon-Levitt and Willis take 'Looper' full circle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Puig, Claudia (September 28, 2012). "Circling, action-packed story makes 'Looper' intriguing". USA Today. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Travers, Peter (September 27, 2012). "Looper". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (September 26, 2012). "Looper". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Schwarzbaum, Lisa (September 26, 2012). "Looper". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Staskiewicz, Keith (January 18, 2013). "DVD & Streaming: Let's Do the Time Warp Again!". Entertainment Weekly (New York: Time Inc.): 65.
- Corliss, Richard (September 27, 2012). "Looper: (500) Days of The Terminator". Time. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- Stevens, Dana (September 28, 2012). "Looper". Slate. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- McClintock, Pamela (September 30, 2012). "Box Office Report: Sony's 'Hotel Transylvania' Smashes Records With $43 Mil Opening". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- "National Board Of Review Best Film: 'Zero Dark Thirty'". Deadline.com. December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "The 2012 WAFCA Award Nominees". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "The 18th Critics' Choice Movie Awards nominees". Broadcast Film Critics Association. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- "Critics’ Choice Movie Awards". BFCA. January 10, 2013.
- ""The Master" rules 2012 CFCA Awards with 10 Nominations". CFCA. 2012-12-14. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "Lincoln leads Houston Film Critic Society Awards with eight nominations Nominees". Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "Austin Film Critics Association". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- "Florida Film Critics Circle". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- "Online Film Critics Society". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- James Berardinelli. "Rewinding 2012 - The Top 10". James Berardinelli. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
- "Best Movies Of 2012". MTV. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
- "Light and Shade: The Films Of 2012". The Skinny. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
- Lumenick, Lou. "Critics pick best films of 2012". New York Post. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
- Kinnear, Simon. "50 Best Movies of 2012". Total Film. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- "Best Movies of 2012". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
- Richard Lawson. "The Best (and Worst) Movies of 2012". The Atlantic Wire. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
- "The Most Redeeming Movies of 2012". Christianity Today. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
Further reading 
- Ian Stasukevich. "Payback Time". American Cinematographer. Vol. 93, No. 10. October 2012. ISSN 0002-7928. Hollywood: California. ages 64–70, 72–75. Behind-the-scenes article focusing on the film's camera work, lighting, etc. 11 pages, 20 photos.
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- Official website
- Looper at the Internet Movie Database
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- Looper at The Numbers