There is something about Philip K. Dick's short stories make great movies. From Minority Report, Total Recall, Paycheck, The Adjustment Bureau, something about ideas in his novels, but particularly his short tales, that seems to make them perfect for expanding into larger movies. That said they often undergo a change of tone in hollywood's hands. Blade Runner lost it's Mercer Boxes and electric sheep to become a film noir that focused on what it meant to live (not that I'm complaining, what a movie!) The original short story that became The Adjustment Bureau was focused on the disturbing thought that some faceless Bureaucrat somewhere was auditing your life, where the hollywood version made it a love story, where the adjusters were angels (and the Chairman, by implication, God).
Looper feels like a Philip K. Dick story. It's disturbing, it's not neat or even necessarily logical (`...that's an exact description of a fuzzy mechanism'). It has a menace to it and the ending offers hope, but no guarantees. It portrays a sort of rundown American future of the 1950s, with a modern drug scene controlled by a powerful organised crime syndicate whose future influence is already being felt. It is not a buddy movie where young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his older self (Bruce Willis) take on the world and right wrongs. The real point of this story is a philosophical question. If you could travel back in time to when Hitler was a child, would you kill him? What would your answer say about you?
There are great performances throughout this movie from Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels (great as a horribly efficient, world weary gangster from the future) and Noah Segan who veers from amusing to horrifying as incompetent enforcer Kid Blue (implying that much of the evil in the world is caused by anger, fear and disappointment rather than by nihilistic hatred). Bruce Willis proves what a good actor he is by making an unsympathetic role understandable, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a compelling leading man.
The Bluray release has excellent with great picture and sound, and the steelbook version is a thing of beauty.
Some reviewers have complained that the ending is inconsistent. I disagree. The mistake that characters make throughout the movie is thinking that just one more death will sort things out. Young Joe's actions in the last scene are not only a logical consequence of situation (the limitations of the 'Blunderbuss' weapon are discussed at several points in the film), but a philosophical statement that a cycle of violence cannot end until someone decides not to strike back. Making that choice does not guarantee a happy outcome, in this film or real life, but in the end it's the only course of action that offers one.