Closing the Loop: ‘The Promise and Threat of the Sacred’ in Rian Johnson’s Looper

  • Author(s): Brian W. Nail
  • When: 2014-04
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • This article examines the ways in which Rian Johnson’s recent film Looper (2012) portrays the complex relationship between violence and the sacred in contemporary society through its exploration of the theme of retribution. Utilizing René Girard’s theory of sacrifice and Roberto Esposito’s explication of the immunitary logic of the sacred, this study argues that the film reveals the double nature of the sacred as a source of both life and death within society. Through an examination of crucial elements of Looper’s plot and setting, and in particular its enigmatic climax, I argue that as a religious film, Looper challenges its audience to critically reflect upon the potential for violence that lies at the heart of society’s most deeply held sacred commitments. Consequently, the film acknowledges what the theologian Gordon Lynch describes as “the inextricable promise and threat of the sacred.”

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