Violent Netflix Sci-Fi Thriller Is A Time Travel Modern Classic

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

When it comes to sci-fi, few themes are as well-trodden as time travel—but for a good reason: the trope offers an outsized opportunity for intrigue, adventure, and profound intellectual meditations, even if it is a little fraught with complexity. But thankfully, Rian Johnson’s Looper wholeheartedly embraces these complexities, exhibiting an uncommon cleverness that does more than propel the narrative: it offers us a fresh, laudable take, undoubtedly worthy of four out of five stars. 

Looper On Netflix


Indeed, when it comes to Netflix titles available for your binging pleasure, Looper is a film that warrants a watch. Expect a thought-provoking and action-packed thriller that challenges expectations through innovative storytelling, a title rife with moral conundrums.

All of which culminates in a surprisingly deep, philosophical rumination on the big topics: fate, identity, and self-sacrifice. 

Obviously, no one can fault Looper for lack of ambition. 

Set In Two Time Periods

Plot-wise, Looper is set in two primary time periods—2044 and 2074. Each is credibly depicted as a plausible extension of today’s world into the future; the memorable sequences in futuristic Shanghai are superbly handled.

As is this Looper‘s premise: a world where time travel is indeed possible but illegal; the only ones employing it being criminals who wield its power to take out undesirable elements. 

Time-Traveling Assassins


Thus, time-traveling targets are dispatched by assassins whose interaction with time travel is simply to perform hits. Undertaking these assassinations are the “Loopers”—hitmen like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Joe.

In a terrific, fascinating nuance enriching this streaming title, murderers-for-hire like Joe are eventually assigned quite the job: killing their future selves and thus sealing the “loop.”

If this weren’t heady enough, the Looper plot intensifies when older Joe (played superbly by Bruce Willis) finds himself in the crosshairs of Young Joe, who recognizes his target.

This enormous dilemma motivates a series of developments engagingly blending action and existential philosophy, all of which are a credit to John’s scriptwriting and world-building. 

Bruce Willis And Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Perhaps the film’s finest scene consists of a conversation in a diner between Young Joe and Old Joe, a surreal moment simultaneously paradoxically grounded as the two—the one?—discuss their shared, albeit endangered, existence. Moments like this are what make Looper worthwhile. 

Johnson’s direction turns what could otherwise be a bland sci-fi action title into a thoughtful, nuanced take on the significant issues for which we love the genre. Characters shaped by the filmmaker’s screenplay and direction are also deep and well-rounded.

Looper’s Supporting Cast


Take Emily Blunt’s character, Sara, a strong and self-motivated single mother whose emotionality is relatable and layered, which renders the film similarly relatable and layered. 

Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano also contribute noteworthy supporting performances; their respective subplots are also generally strong, rounding out the moral and existential weight pervading Looper

Streaming Looper

joseph gordon-levitt looper Looper


Fans may know Johnson’s preceding work, like the neo-noir-meets-high school drama Brick or the con-man head-scratcher The Brothers Bloom—all of which exist in separate genre camps they also respectively defy.

That’s part of what makes Johnson such a director to watch: he subverts genre while injecting new life into it, something one can’t help but respect. 

For an innovative, impressively written, and compellingly directed streaming experience, opt for Looper today.