Not to get punny but Looper knocked me for a loop. I was transfixed by the story all the way through, felt Looper offered a great ending and one sequence in particular was cinematic genius. Looper merges time travel and other sci-fi conceits (telekinesis, dystopian society) in a manner that both works like clockwork and pleases the audience.

A precise script and direction by Rian Johnson should put this filmmaker in a higher category reserved for both current cult directors (Aronofsky, Wes and P.T. Anderson) as well as stalwart directors like David Fincher. Johnson has definitely arrived on the scene even though I’ve always admired his first two features Brick and The Brothers Bloom. Johnson has also helmed episodes of cable series Breaking Bad.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is himself having a banner year with Looper, the upcoming Lincoln, as well as the tightly constructed Premium Rush and the year’s elephant in the room The Dark Knight Rises. JGL plays a miscreant of society about 30 years from now (2042); he kills by contract and uses his earnings to stay high on an addicting drug he administers with eye drops. People still drive cars that have been modified with solar panels although there are also vehicles that are like a combo of helicopters and motorcycles. The premise is that JGL works for a mob syndicate from 30 years in his future that send unlucky souls back in time for execution, and thus the designation looper. The looper’s last assignment is to kill themself, as they are 30 years in the future, upon which they receive a huge payment in gold and have the next three decades to live it up. Bruce Willis plays the older version of JGL; Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels and Piper Perabo co-star. Daniels has some choice lines and plays a time traveling mobster with a sense of his own worth.

If Rian Johnson had written Looper as a novel in the 1950s he would be on a similar pedestal with Philip K. Dick or Ray Bradbury. The experience of watching Looper gives you confidence in your own existence, yes, it’s that cool. I wanted to freeze time and contemplate the various time related scenarios that Looper proposes. Two people who are actually the same person existing in the same space-time continuum. That mixed with a sub plot involving the true power of mind over matter. But the magic of Looper is that all of the above make perfect sense in the parameters of the narrative.

When one of the loopers (Paul Dano) doesn’t kill his future self and goes on the run his future self all of a sudden starts to loose appendages and finds scars with messages appearing on his arm. You know that the powers that be have a way of controlling the destiny of their group and the loopers.

There’ve been some average sci-fiers this year from the serviceable Prometheus to the just okay Total Recall. Looper is in a league all of its own. On a side note, there’s either digital manipulation or heavy make-up applications to the image of JGL all throughout the movie – he just looks like an entirely different person.

— Michael Bergeron