An abridged version of this review was originally posted in my column at Towleroad
"Time travel hasn't been invented yet," Joseph Gordon-Levitt warns us from 2042 in LOOPER's voiceover. "But in the future it will be." In 2072 crime lords send their victims back in time to be killed by "loopers" like Joe since it's the only way to get away with murder. (Apparently infallible forensic science has also been invented in the future!).
Loopers dispatch their prey unceremoniously with a crude descendant of the shotgun called a "Blunderbuss" which is useless at long distances but impossible to miss with up close. When each Looper's contract expires, his older self is sent back to his younger self for execution which is called "Closing the Loop". In this case that's Bruce Willis sent back in time to meet his death at the hands of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Bruce Willis drag. (Joe's makeup effects, though extraordinarily non fake-looking are initially distracting -- JGL doesn't look like that!)
Nothing kills genre films quicker than exposition. When you have to pass out glossaries to the uninitiated or explain the rules over and over again, a story can sputter and die or, at the very least, bore you stupid the second time through. Looper, however, is a wonderfully nimble exception given the size of the learning curve. More...