Maybe I’m just getting acclimated to current movies, or maybe I’m just tired of griping about movies that don’t make consistent sense, but Looper seemed to me to hold together as well as you expect a time travel movie to hold together. A lot of the mysterious elements appear at the beginning and the explanations tend to appear a lot later and I’m not sure all the initial elements are covered or that all the explanations hold. But I wasn’t frustrated or otherwise unhappy as to Looper making sense.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing Joe as a young man and Bruce Willis is playing Joe as an old man and time travel brings the two of them together and the movie keeps shifting about as one man’s experience turns into another man’s memory and time spans of various lengths and distances get mixed into the broth while a current time plot moves forward and a past plot keeps coming back. But be patient and what you need to know will be clarified, partly by Willis’ plot summary and partly by gradual repetitions in expanded contexts, and other devices. The plot itself is not nearly as complex as the treatment suggests, being largely just another chase and escape series involving both men, Jeff Daniels’ gangster squad, and Emily Blunt and what we will simply call her son.
But things are not helped by annoyingly frequent spasms of violence featuring gunfire and general bang-bang, with a really quite unusual car wreck and some dandy fires and explosions. All of these interrupt and in fact largely eliminate any buildups of suspense or developments of characters, which remain pretty wooden caricatures that don’t arouse sympathy or interest. Except for the child, eventually, but I don’t want to talk about him.
Surprisingly little is done with the issues of Gordon-Levitt and Willis playing the same character in pursuit of himself, so Looper is nowhere near as original as it wants to be. But it does make sense.