Among the many great scenes in “Looper,” one of the best moments consists of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe sitting in a diner across from his older self (Bruce Willis). With an impressible make-up job and performance, Gordon-Levitt looks like he could be a past version of Willis, and Willis a future version of Gordon-Levitt.
Joe is a highly trained killer called a “Looper” in the year 2042. When the mob wants to get rid of somebody 30 years into the future, they send the person to people like Joe, who kill and dispose of the body so there is no longer any trace of the individual in the future.
Like most contracts, however, Joe’s eventually expires. Then he must enter the process of “closing your Loop,” requiring him to kill his future self, collect a generous payday, and enjoy the next 30 years of his life.
Joe’s slight hesitation upon Old Joe’s arrival leads to the latter’s escape, and the former’s desperate pursuit to ultimately kill his older self and close his loop. Old Joe has completely entirely different plans.
Back to the diner, though. In one of the rare moments “Looper” gives its audience a chance to breathe, it also makes us laugh. The dynamic back-and-forth between Gordon-Levitt and Willis is grand.
“I don’t want to talk about time travel,” Willis says, as Gordon-Levitt questions his presence. “It doesn’t matter.”
Perhaps this understanding of the triviality of time travel — a sci-fi fantasy — is what makes “Looper” one of the best science fiction films ever dealing with the concept. It explains just enough, and leaves just enough for the viewer to take home. Unlike many films of this genre, “Looper” actually trusts its audience to think on their own.