This review was originally published on Pol Culture.
The virtue of the science-fiction thriller Looper, written and directed by Rian Johnson, is its crackerjack plotting. One will want to talk about it right away with others who have seen it, and with those who haven’t, one’s attitude is the less they know the better. They should just know that after they see it, they will be thankful for the restraint. Without giving too much away, here’s the story’s starting point: The year is 2044. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a “looper,” an assassin who kills mob targets sent from the future for easy disposal. The loopers know they will become mob targets as well, and after one kills his future self, his tour of duty is over. He then gets thirty years to enjoy his retirement. It ends when the mob comes knocking to sign paid in full. The future self of the Gordon-Levitt character, played by Bruce Willis, has other ideas. He comes back to the past to protect the life he’s built, which gets the 2044 mob and his younger self after him. The younger self is on the run from the mob, too, as they intend to use him to take his older self down. This doesn’t begin to describe all the twists and turns the story takes, and if the film has a weakness, it is that beyond the plotting, there isn’t much of interest. But Johnson keeps the movie hurtling along at such a pace that one likely won’t mind. The film is an unpretentious piece of well-executed pulp entertainment. It isn’t trying to be anything more than an exciting couple of hours, and it does a terrific job. One comes away alert, refreshed, and satisfied.