Time travel. What if you went back to disappear? If a Looper is waiting for you, nothing but an appointment with a blunderbuss is your welcome party. Once you’re killed, the looper gets a deposit of silver and another chance while the mob 30 years into the future has solved the sticky problem of where to hide the body.
With the arrival of TK (telekinesis), doped up guys can pick up girls by magically floating a quarter in their hands. The world of a looper is surrounded by mob-run cities and vagrants wandering the countryside hoping to find another meal or fix.
You can escape this dystopia as a looper when you get your golden ticket: taking out yourself when you are sent back with a cache of gold. This closes the loop and gives you 30 years to celebrate your freedom until your irreversible doom when you are sent back. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper planning for his escape by caching up his silver.
The consequences of letting a hit go creates an urgent rush by the present day (2034) mob to prevent time travel paradoxes to muddy the world. How much more so if you pass when your loop is being closed. Seth (Paul Dano) lets his old self go (Frank Brennan). Joe is convinced to give Seth up to the wrath of boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) to gruesome results.
Joe’s loop is to be closed, but Joe from the future (Bruce Willis) is determined to prevent his wife thirty years hence from being killed. Joe’s memories fade and become solid as the future gradually is linked with his past.
The film is able to bring the time travel genre to a grimy finish. Time travel, being illegal, is only used by future criminals. Old Seth shows how acts in the present affect his physical body as they are telegraphed to his future body immediately. Seth doesn’t remember that past so that he is surprised by the mutilations that he undergoes as retribution.
Sara (Emily Blunt) is thrown into the time travel maelstrom when her son becomes a target of Joe’s attempt to preemptively fix the future he remembers. Her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon) has TK abilities like his mother. They live on a cane farm that is normally insulated from the big city’s problems. Cid is an angry child that Sara tries to encourage with her love for him.
The technology of Looper is not that advanced although some people have glamorous flying motorcycles. There is a popular drug that the mobsters use. This affects the tenor of the action and the chaos of the addicted characters.
The soundtrack by Nathan Johnson adds to the tension and destruction with a sharp, angular score that drifts the mood into progressively increasing danger and accompanies one through a world that has gone wrong.