What a well crafted film! Time travel is always a messy business, especially if you go back in time, cause there will be the paradox if you change something. In other words, your past is going to catch up with your present, and this film explains it quite well in one of the mini-stories.
It was a bit confusing at the beginning with the present and the future, i.e., who is where? If you had been following TIFF 2012, or saw the trailer, you knew the core story was that Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets up with himself (Bruce Willis),who travels back in time to be executed by his younger self, Joe. Since, Joe is a proficient looper (those who kills and eliminates), this should have been a pretty straight-forward job like many others that he did before this one. Of course, nothing is this simple: old Joe escapes.
Once you sort out Joe is the present and old Joe is really 30 years in the future, who is transported back (Trivia: Bruce Willis was in a similar avant-garde time-travelling film, what was it?), then the next challenge is to tie the stories together. In fact, there are at least three that deals with Joe. Hence, the sooner you anchor on a reference point, the better you will understand the story.
Abe (Jeff Daniels) is the mob who is doing the dirty deeds hiring loopers to kill those outlaws 30 years from now, but in the present. Sara(Emily Blunt) owns a farm, and her job is to protect her son, Cid (Pierce Gagnon), or shall we say ensure that Cid grows up with love and care.
Old Joe had a wife, Summer Qing (Qing Xu). She was killed before he goes into the tube to be transported. Old Joe wants to preserve the memory of his wife before it is too late, cause legend has it that a “rainmaker” is going to end it all.
Unfortunately, to say more will be giving away the story. Nonetheless, the premises are all there, you just have to put them together. It is not as convoluted as Inception (2010), but it is unique on its own. One last hint: looper, and looping, … if the circle is not broken, it will become perpetual. So who breaks the chain? that will be the right question to ask. Lastly, there is superpower involved.
Answer: Twelve Monkeys (1995)