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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content.

Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson

Extremely Offensive
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Primary Audience:
Sci-Fi Action Adventure Crime Thriller Drama
1 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 28, 2012 (wide—2,800+ theaters)
DVD: December 31, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, FilmDistrict


hitman / assassin


mafia / organized crime / crime syndicate

time travel / telekinesis

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

illegal drug use

Featuring: Joseph Gordon-LevittJoe
Bruce WillisOld Joe
Emily BluntSara
Paul DanoSeth
Noah Segan … Kid Blue
Piper Perabo … Suzie
Jeff DanielsAbe
more »
Director: Rian Johnson
Producer: DMG Entertainment
Endgame Entertainment
more »
Distributor: FilmDistrict

“Hunted by your future. Haunted by your past.”

Don’t you hate it when you see a movie preview and it ruins all the good parts, or practically the entire plot of the movie? Sure, the preview may be entertaining, but it leaves nothing for the viewer who has paid his or her hard earned money to see the film. It does make it all the more special, however, when a film comes along and takes you completely by surprise. The preview advertises a surface level plot, but the moviegoer finds out that there is much more under the hood. Such is the case with “Looper”, the science fiction thriller from writer-director Rian Johnson (“Brick”, “The Brothers Bloom”). The film is a sci-fi, time traveling adventure that contains more secrets than the advertisers care to show you (thankfully). While the content of the film is unfortunately obscene, the moviemaking quality on display makes “Looper” the best original science fiction movie of the decade and one of the best films of the year.

Our story takes place in the year 2044. Time travel was invented in 2073, but quickly outlawed. It’s only used by major crime syndicates who want to dispose of dead bodies. They send their dead bodies back in time and then workers, called loopers, dispose of them. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of those loopers, and has been for quite some time. His world turns upside down when his next target is an older version of himself (Bruce Willis). Faced with a difficult situation that has ramifications for years to come, Joe uncovers a sinister plot and finds out about his future in the worst way possible.

There is obviously far more to the plot than what I just described, but suffice it to say, it’s much better that you know as little as possible as the story unfolds. While the film starts out as a basic time travel actioner, many twists and turns make “Looper” a meaningful film that packs a serious emotional punch.

Rian Johnson has created a film involving time travel that is completely airtight. Every time you question how an event in the past affects an event in the future, Mr. Johnson has an answer for you, and sometimes through a very surprising reveal. The film goes from good to great, however, based on the performances of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. Levitt wears quite a bit of makeup, but successfully embodies Bruce Willis as a much younger man. Willis is also back in rare form, acting with gravitas while making the most of some great action sequences. Most of all, the film has unbelievable heart. Along with a great story about finding yourself, the film showcases an amazing message of sacrifice and unconditional love.

Unfortunately, along with the excellent filmmaking and great message also comes a significant amount of R-rated content. “Looper” is a very dark and violent film. There is plenty of blood splattered during the numerous murders within the movie. Some of this violence involves children. The language in Looper is also very strong, including countless uses of the “F” word as well as some instances of the Lord’s name in vain. Along with the language and violence, there is one scene involving heavy sexuality. The crime headquarters is located in a strip club, and women are seen topless, specifically one for an extended amount of time.

The content of “Looper” is profane and objectionable, which is a shame. The quality of the film is excellent, but many moviegoers will be kept away by a regrettable amount of profanity and sexuality. Combining the best elements of films like “Memento”, “Back to the Future”, and “Die Hard”, “Looper” is an extraordinary work of art that is also profane in equal measure. Some things, unfortunately, are better left out of the previews.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I did like this movie, even though it was a bit scarier than I was expecting. The storytelling, acting, and effects were just excellent… but paired with that was blatant nudity, profanity, and nausea-inducing violence. I think I would probably watch it again, although it might not be as interesting, now that I know the plot twists. Of course, listing all of the violence would take up a whole page or more, but it disturbed me most when blood went spurting from a little boy’s face after a bullet grazed his cheek, and when that same boy was shown later drenched head to toe in someone else’s blood. Those parts bordered on “horror movie” for me.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kadie Jo, age 20 (USA)
Positive—Two things made this movie, I guess, screenwriter and director Rian Johnson’s love for Philip K. Dicks’ works and Jerome Bixby’s short story “It’s a Good Life” (1953)—remember the kid in Peaksville, Ohio, with supernatural powers, or its Rod Sterling adaptation of the “Twilight Zone” episode of the same name (1961). The time travel, hitman, future—all these premises are icings of the core moral predicament—can you kill a child if he will be dangerous in the future and thwart the life of your beloved and your unborn child. Is there any such thing as fate or predestination, and can you alter it with your action, which may contradict your concepts of good and evil. The movie tries to answer a lot of questions and present challenges to the viewer.

One problem with the character is it’s hard to delineate the character, either trying to save a life or searching for all the kids that fit to the profile to kill like having a Herod’s complex, and then split these character traits to two characters (one from the future and another shifting between future and past (or a current ex-present). Rather than going into the story, I let you to decide after watching the movie… more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Cyril Thomas, age 32 (United Kingdom)
Positive—LOOPER is a time traveling story about hired hitmen (known as Loopers-hence the title of the film) who were paid in silver to get rid of people from the future. Now when a particular looper killed his target and was paid in gold, it is called “closing loose end”-meaning, the target was of his future self. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL) played as Joe, a looper who must contend to finding his escaped older self (Bruce Willis) and eliminate the man so he can live his wanton ways, despite what the Old Joe warned him of. LOOPER is more than just a sci-fi film about time traveling. It is an intriguing look at the conscious mind of humanity and the cycle of life that we can make a difference in.

The first half of the film was fast paced and prepping the bases for what a time traveling film could be, and then it came to a slow and meditating turn as we’re introduced to two new characters, Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son, Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Now, I must applaud the child actor here. Not since THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) with Haley Joel Osment, has there been a child such at a young age commands a scene with gravitas. Yes, “Looper” is not a film for the squeamish and not as deep as PRIMER (2004), another time traveling film that was produced, written, starring and directed by Shane Carruth, who has a hand working on here for the time traveling sequences. Rian Johnson, the writer and director who brought us BRICK (2005-one of my favorite film and JGL’s first collaboration with Johnson) and THE BROTHERS BLOOM (2008), is one of those filmmakers that knows how to write smart dialogs and well crafted script. Unlike M. Night Shyamalan who churned up film after film after a couple of hits like THE SIXTH SENSE and SIGNS (2002), LOOPER is Johnson’s third film to date, and he seemed to take his time to craft his work rather than to rush it for the paycheck. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mang Yang, age 40 (USA)
Positive—It’s a tough film. At first I was going to complain, that although I like time travel stories maybe best of all in a way, this is just amoral, and so too depressing because there’s no heroes to root for. Then I started to get it. There is a deeply moral dimension, or there is something to learn from/enjoy. He’s fighting himself, for himself! Just like all of our best stories, and Shakespeare got this, maybe best of all so many say.

***SPOILER*** His being such a completely selfish, murdering, monstrous person, is *needed* for this “moral of the story” tale! So, he comes back from the future, after finding and *knowing* love, repenting from and maybe healing from the monster he had been. He comes back, though, to pursue becoming a murdering/monster again, by killing children to try and prevent a future monster in his future, redeemed life, from murdering his beloved wife (i.e., by stopping the boy from growing up to become that murderer of his wife.) Meanwhile, his past self is falling in love with a woman he meets in the process of trying to prevent his future self from murdering kids—or, from being a monster! So the present “monster” becomes redeemed in deciding to be a hero (as he’s discovering love) in attempting to prevent his “love redeemed” future self, from being a monster in his attempt to save his future redeemer… his wife who was (will be) murdered. Wow!! Meanwhile, he falls in love with not just the Mother of the child who is the future murderer of his “redeemer” wife, but with the boy/monster. He lets them go. Then, some awesome action as his future self, in the past, uses all the skills he learned from being a killer for so many years, to kill and fight off scads of people who work for the mass murderer who kills his wife in the future. Drama continues with the boy and Mother and him, and besides the intriguing and cool aspects of telekinesis and world domination and time travel, the resulting love between the Mother and her boy, in effect redeeming the boy from his potential evil, now, is amazing and touching. The next, resulting *act* of redemption, by our murderous, monstrous, protagonist, was not just awesome in how it saved *the day*, but heartbreaking. ***END SPOILER***

I think it would, or this story would, have made Shakespeare inspired, and proud.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—JP Chapman, age 43 (Australia)
Positive—There is a part in “Looper” where Bruce Willis, through a strange sort of temporal metamorphosis, slips back into John McClane’s skin—AK-47 in hand, screaming obscenities and straining neck tendons while his face is soaked with villain’s blood. Thing is, that is probably the worst part of the movie, and you KNOW it was only in the movie because some dumb suit at TriStar with a flock of seagulls haircut chimed in his two cents during Johnson’s pitch for the film.

The good news is the rest of the movie takes more notes from “Blade Runner” than “Die Hard.” Writer/director Rian Johnson has weaved the most inventive and original sci-fi script since I can’t even remember. And somehow convinced the studio to let him get away with an R rating, surely getting himself out of the big PG-13 opening weekend dollars that most Sci-Fi films rake in. The result is a sprawling and brilliant thought experiment that is as exciting as it is dangerous and as genius as is wholly expected—in short, it’s the movie you made up when you were 14 and had just seen Terminator and read your first Phillip K. Dick book.

And if that isn’t you, then go see it because they made Joseph Gordon Levitt look like Bruce Willis with computers. Seriously, what can’t they do these days?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—John Bennet (USA)
Neutral—Beware:this comment contains spoilers so if you really want to go and see this movie, don’t read. Not that I quite recommend you do. To me this film was an interesting concept movie with pretty decent special effects and a well-put-together enough futuristic setting but obviously seriously let down by its content. Given it concerns assassins working for the Mob, it’s hardly unsurprising to see a lot of violence and murder, drug abuse, and some brief nudity and sex scenes (close my eyes through most of the latter). If you don’t want to see these stay away, and frankly it was probably against my better judgement. I think the depiction of the future, whilst it does include the odd flying motorcycle and people with telekinetic powers (more fantasy than sci-fi really, or possibly demonic in real life) is quite interesting—there are some signs of economic decay and hints of what a future with declining oil reserves would look like (which I think is realistic), and the plot seems very similar to the idea of “if you could kill Hitler as a child to stop him committing evil acts, which he is not yet responsible for, would you?” Only Hitler is a would-be mob boss with telekinetic powers, and the reason the future version of the main character (Bruce Willis) wants to kill him is more revenge.

There is some attempt to show a moral journey for the younger version—at the beginning he’s self-serving and just wants his life back, but by the end, is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of others (only by suicide, which might not be seen as a good thing).

Another thing this film gets wrong is that it doesn’t really deal with temporal paradoxes realistically- either you can’t change the future, or you create a new alternate future, or at the very least you can’t change it in such a way as to create a contradiction in events. This film does create a contradiction.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Richard, age 27 (United Kingdom)
Neutral—The movie was entertaining. I’ll say that. Yes, I had a good time, and even though I usually don’t like action/violence films, I really wasn’t bothered by this one. HOWEVER, I was bothered by the excessive language and nudity. If those were thrown out, it would’ve been a pretty good film. I know some people say the movie was hard to follow, but, personally, I found it very predictable. I couldn’t tell you the entire plot going into it, but I could usually tell you exactly what would happen during the next 2 minutes based on the previous 2 minutes. By the way, the child actor was wonderful!! Look for more movies from him in the future, I’m sure! He was the best part of the movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Chrystal, age 36 (USA)
Negative—The only redeeming value I achieved in watching this film opening night is to warn anyone who reads this. I have been fortunate to avoid movies by fellow viewers in the past, so I hope to have my turn for you… This movie is just plain sick. I read the synopsis and believed this film was a sci-fi/Bruce Willis action movie in the flavor of “Die Hard” type film. I was wrong. It is dark and very disturbing-beyond the executions, drug abuse, prostitutes-in your face nudity-is the theme of assassinating children… ***SPOILER ALERT***a small child with supernatural powers causing people to explode… and your “heroine” committing suicide…

Does that sound enjoyable? I read a reviewer say how it is a film of redemption, really? So a bad guy who goes back in time, wants to kill everybody, then his younger version of himself (also a bad guy) trying to kill the older version of himself has “matured” where he brings redemption by suicide? And that somehow is honorable?

Without the true example of redemption-Christ-man’s ideas left to his own imaginations are dark, perverse, and twisted. Pass on this film, not worth a dollar rental, it was not even entertaining, but disturbing. It left images in my mind I wish were not there. Redeem your money and time with something better, you won’t regret it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Deborah, age 42
Negative—Although this movie vividly demonstrates the Biblical concepts of “Love your enemy” and “There is no greater love than to give one’s life for another”, the writer’s love of the F-word, the needless bare-breast scene and the ultra-fast-paced, oft-confusing action sequences combine to push my opinion to a negative. I disagree with our reviewer’s ranking of this movie with the science fiction greats… maybe if I understood why the villain was looped twice.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Brian Schacht, age 65 (Canada)
Negative—I should’ve known better. What appeared to be an interesting time travel story is completely overshadowed by non-stop f-bombs and every other obscenity, numerous graphic murders, some shown in slow motion for blood and gore, nudity, and more bloody violence involving children—a good example of why people are avoiding movies these days. It is as if someone cooked an interesting meal but also put cockroaches and feces in the mix. No one wants it. Hollywood is morally bankrupt, and I will not waste my money on such offerings again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Negative—I looked for a review before going, and there was none, so thought I would give this movie a try. Wish I stayed home. Lord’s name taken in vain several times, in addition to the other profanity. Bizarre story line and graphic violence make me not recommend this movie. I did, however think Gordon-Levitt did an excellent acting job portraying a younger Willis, but certainly not worth putting all that other junk in my head. I wish I hadn’t seen the movie, by the time it was over. Save your money and skip this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Gloria, age 46 (USA)
Negative—The review does not really explain the depth of foul/offensive language, sexuality, and violence in the move. The movie has a plot which had the potential to be interesting; it was lost in the gratuitous violence, foul language, and sexuality which (unknowingly to the director) actually detracts from the film vision. I could not recommend the movie… particularly the sexuality and the inability of a man NOT to lust, based on the images presented. A good tale; unable to recommend due to the content.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Casey Scharven, age 47 (USA)
Negative—We rented this movie the other evening. Everything everyone else said was true… too violent, too much nudity… too harsh of language… Most of all, I can say the storyline traveled around their back to get to their ear. The movie just drug on and on, trying to make opportunities to kill someone, cuss, or show skin. The only redeeming moments of the film were the last 10 minutes. The story could have been great, but this is one of those movies that took a 30 minute story and tried to turn it into a 2 hour story. To lengthen and fill in the time, they stuffed it full of garbage.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Tracy, age 43 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—“Looper” is a highly engaging, thought-provoking piece of science fiction with a surprisingly strong emotional core. The film starts off with a cyber-punk aesthetic and transitions into a slower-paced drama with intervals of action, building up to an explosive climax. In the middle of the film, as Willis” character (the older version of Levitt’s Joe) searches for a child that may become a future crime-figure, present Joe (Levitt) takes refuge on a farm. It is on the farm that he is forced to distance himself from his past ways (before going on the run, he was a drug-addict whose only emotional connection was to a stripper/prostitute.) He forms a connection with the woman who owns the farm, Sarah, and bonds with her troubled son Cid, a gifted child with occasional tantrums that lead to extreme outbursts of psychic power. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jonathan (a Jew), age 17 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I love seeing movies. But I’ve made some changes as a Christian to better myself. I try to watch less violent and less swear filled movies now. However, nudity I am REALLY trying to avoid. So reading this review has made me very sad that they had to put nudity in it. I realize they do this to make it more appeasing to adults, but nudity doesn’t add anything to the movie. And because I know there is nudity in it I doubt I will see it now. Such a shame because the movie looks amazing. I’ll wait for it to come to TV where it will be edited.
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality:
—Matt, age 30 (USA)
Negative—I can't honestly review this film as my wife and I did not stay to see the whole thing. But just a word of warning for anyone who like us who doesn't really keep up with contemporary cinema and who might want to go based on reviews describing this as an intelligent sci-fi classic: from what I saw this is a brutal, relentlessly ultra-violent movie with images equaling a modern horror film. This is in another category beyond movies like 12 Monkeys, Terminator, the Matrix, Blade Runner or even the Alien films and should really be described as a Sci Fi/Horror film. Just my opinion.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Del, age 50 (USA)

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