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Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Looper Movie Poster Image
Smart, exciting sci-fi tale has violence, sex, and drugs.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 118 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 33 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The main character -- at two different ages -- begins the story by thinking entirely about himself. But by the end, he's learned to put others first. In a secondary theme, the movie asserts that a child will avoid growing up into an angry criminal if he can be raised by a loving parent.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though the main character eventually does something heroic, he's actually fairly selfish throughout most of the film. Sara, however, is a strong female role model, trying to make up for past mistakes and devoting herself to motherhood.


Plenty of sci-fi/fantasy violence. Just about everyone has a gun, and most characters are shot at some point (in the face, head, heart); many die. Noticeable amounts of blood. In the most shocking sequence (potential spoiler alert!), the older Joe kills a child (off screen), hoping to prevent future disasters. He breaks down and cries afterward. There's a mild suggestion that two other children are in danger. A child throws frightening, supernatural temper tantrums that cause serious harm (in some cases, gorily so). A man's hand is smashed with a hammer. A man is punished via time travel, as parts of his body suddenly disappear (fingers, nose, legs, etc.).


The main character has suggested offscreen sex with a showgirl who seems to double as a call girl or prostitute. Viewers see them after the fact, and she's seen topless for a few moments. In a later scene, the main character has sex with the female lead. She seduces him and kisses him, and he reciprocates. The sex occurs off screen, and the movie cuts to them in bed afterward.


Strong but not constant language includes several uses of "f--k," "a--hole," "ass," "s--t," "hell," "damn," and "p---y." Also, "goddamn," "Jesus Christ," and "oh my God" as exclamations.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character habitually uses a fictitious eye-drop drug. He's shown waking up after a night of partying and needing more drugs. He goes through painful withdrawals in one scene. In a "flashback" to an alternate timeline, he becomes an addict and is shown graduating to harder drugs, something in a needle. One character smokes a cigarette after sex.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySynchronicity September 29, 2012

One of the best sci-fi films of all time, with a balance of action and substance. Older teens.

Not since Inception has there been a more engaging and thought-provoking science fiction film than Looper. This is only director Rian Johnson's third film... Continue reading
Parent of a 13 year old Written byFanner50 October 1, 2012

Some over-the-top violence. Hard to stomach.

Over the top violence: human dismemberment and the killing of toddler child. Interesting plot about time-travel and a dystopic future with good actors, but th... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 30, 2012

Spectacular movie, for those who can handle it.

Let me start out this review by saying that whatever I write following this, I absolutely think this movie is outstanding, both as an entry in science fiction a... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 17, 2016

Great story has violence, sex and drugs

The film looper is about a assassin. Who kills people from the future. But then he finds that his next target is his future self. The film is extremely intense... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills and sci-fi

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