Looper – Time Travel Done Right

Looper is jet bike ride into a dystopian not so distant future. Time travel is used by a future syndicate to send their problem children back in time to be eradicated by hit men known as Loopers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one such Looper. His selfish, oofy world is threatened when his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back to be eliminated–and he fails to ‘close the loop’.

We’ve already seen what happens when Boss (Jeff Daniels) has to deal with these “running loops.” To make matters worse, Joe’s future self has his own agenda and quickly involves Joe with farmer (Emily Blount), her son (Pierce Gagnon), and a plot to preemptively kill a future despot known only as the Rainmaker.

Joe’s beautiful pocket watch

I have a problem with this. I’m a huge Time Travel snob. A real hater. At the first whiff of a time paradox or even the slightest hint of a temporal ambiguity I’m out, gone, scattered off. I’ve stopped watching a series because they threw in a single poorly executed, plot hole-filled Berliner of an episode. That’s not a good thing, because I know I’ve missed some real gems.

Like Looper.

In my defense, good fiction, good entertainment is about suspending disbelief. We’ve all heard that a hundred times. And time travel stories, for me, require a more skillful sleight of hand.

Looper has that.

Specifically, Looper follows the sage advice of one of my favorite authors, the late Ted Sturgeon.

Let me tell you something: you can not write good fiction about ideas. You can only write good fiction about people.” ― Theodore Sturgeon, ‘Sturgeon is Alive and Well’

Looper is first and foremost a story about people. It doesn’t hurt that the leads, Xu “Summer” Qing, Pierce Gagnon, Emily Blunt, Bruce Willis, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt turn in superb performances. Especially Gagnon and Xu. There is a lot going on here, and it is conveyed elegantly and efficiently with limited exposition.

Looper asks the powerful question: What would we be willing to do to save our one true love, the person who saved… us?

The story also gives a nod to the classic Casablanca. Both movies have a cafe La Belle Aurore. The main characters live in desperate times and pursue comfortable if rather short-sighted lives. To quote Joe “This job doesn’t tend to attract the most forward thinking people.” Joe and his predecessor Rick have similar character arcs.

I can’t say more without giving away too much. Just go. Stream it.


Need another tenth dimensional fix? Here are a few Time Travel Movies that won’t make you regret the time spent: Predestination (2015) is a must. Then Primer (2004) and maybe even Time Lapse (also 2015).

If you aren’t familiar with ‘By His Bootstraps’, the paragon of time travel stories, grab a copy of ‘The Menace From Earth.’ Enjoy it and seven other wonderful pieces from master storyteller and dean of American SF writers Robert A. Heinlein.