A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Looper is a sci-fi/time travel/action movie with adult material that's handled in an intelligent and sensitive enough way that older teens should be OK. The violence is mostly of the sci-fi/fantasy variety, with many guns and most characters getting shot at some point (some blood). Potential spoiler alert: A child is shot and killed off screen. The main character has suggested sex with two women; one is shown topless, and there's also kissing and groping. Language is strong but infrequent and includes uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Drugs are an issue; the main character is shown to be addicted to fictitious drugs, but his habit grows worse, and he's shown going through painful withdrawals. Characters learn to be less selfish, and there's a strong female lead.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Smart, thrilling, superb sci-fi action film has plenty of time travel mayhem; plus bloody violence, drugs, and sex.
What's the story?
In 2044, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a "looper" -- aka hitman. Whenever gangsters from 30 years further in the future want to get rid of someone, they send the victims back in time, where loopers instantly dispatch them, leaving no record of anything. One day Joe is suddenly faced with the task of killing his own older self (Bruce Willis), who unfortunately escapes. Joe learns that the older Joe wants to kill three kids, one of whom will turn into a vicious gangster in the future. In trouble with his bosses, Joe hides out on a farm, the home of one of the three kids, Cid (Pierce Gagnon). He decides to wait there with Cid's mother, Sara (Emily Blunt), for the inevitable face-off with himself.
Is it any good?
Writer/director Rian Johnson delivers on the promise of his extraordinary debut Brick, with this, his ingenious third film. Looper has an unusual balance of intelligence and thrills, plus visual design and sharp dialogue. It's complex enough that sci-fi fans can dig deeper over multiple viewings, but thrilling enough that casual viewers can take it all in with one watch.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is that actors Gordon-Levitt and Willis don't look much alike, and Gordon-Levitt's makeup doesn't help much. But his performance is exceptional, and eventually the two actors start to seem like their characters, even if they don't look like them. Johnson also adds several little Western touches, including an ineffectual cowboy-like bad guy and an amazing use of wide-open spaces, stillness, and silence -- as well as a tribute to Shane. The characters are dark, but they each go on fulfilling journeys. This is the kind of movie Hollywood doesn't make enough of.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's gun violence. Why are characters obsessed with guns in this movie? Do all the guns and shooting help advance the story?
If you met your future self, what would you want to ask?
At what point does Joe learn to be less selfish? What made him change his mind?
- In theaters: September 28, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 31, 2012
- Cast: Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Director: Rian Johnson
- Studio: FilmDistrict
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
- Last updated: January 27, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love thrills and sci-fi
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch