A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Rian Johnson's "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. You have to grin at the ingenuity of Johnson's screenplay.
The movie takes place in 2044 and 2074, both of which look like plausible variations of the American present, and then there are a few scenes set in a futuristic Shanghai. We learn that although time travel is declared illegal once it has been discovered, a crime syndicate cheats and uses it as a method for disposing of its enemies. Imagine this. A man with shotgun stands by himself in a field. A second man materializes out of thin air. The first man blasts a hole in him.
The thin-air guy, who was bound and hooded, is a man from the future who has been sent back in time to be assassinated. The shotgun guy is known as a "Looper." He has been sent back into time to be the trigger man. Eventually, when he grows old enough, he will be sent back in time to be killed by his own younger self. This is known as "closing the loop."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, the triggerman in 2044. Bruce Willis plays Old Joe, sent back from the future. The loop is not closed, however, because Old Joe arrives without a hood, and Young Joe hesitates when he realizes his latest target is … himself. He knew that would happen eventually (it's part of the deal), but a hood would have prevented him from knowing which victim was himself.