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Dan's Review: Looper

The two Bruces?
Looper (Tristar)

Rated R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content.

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Qing Xu, Tracie Thoms, Frank Brennan, Garret Dillahunt, Marcus Hester.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson.

GRADE: A-

REVIEW:


Time travel is always a fascinating scenario. With peoples' lives so connected by so many variables, the idea of altering any small part of the past or future is always decent fodder for the big and small screen (Star Trek, Back to the Future). Such changes across the space/time continuum is the premise for Looper.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays "young" Joe, a "looper," or hit man living in the year 2044. Loopers are assigned to blow away people assigned for execution by the mob of the even more distant future of 2074. The condemned victims appear via time travel in an open Kansas farm field where the looper is required to shoot them dead on sight. The looper is compensated by retrieving silver bars attached to the soon-to-be corpse, which he is supposed to deliver to his present-day mob contact Abe (Jeff Daniels).

On one day, "young" Joe's next victim appears as himself, or "old" Joe (Bruce Willis). Young Joe hesitates, and Old Joe knocks him out, causing all kinds of confusion and possibilities for the future.

As Young Joe tries to hunt Old Joe down, he encounters Sara (Emily Blunt) on her farm where she stays with her telekinesis-gifted son Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Young Joe soon discovers that Old Joe is hunting Cid down because the boy is destined to become an all-powerful mob boss of the future who possesses great powers, and will be primarily responsible for taking away the life of his future bride. Adding to the drama is Abe and his thugs, who are trying to hunt down Young Joe.

Looper is a complex and clever tale that does not bog itself down with all the speculation of future technologies and possibilities (like Back to the Future II - where are the hoverboards?). Instead, writer/director Rian Johnson focuses on the intellectual struggle for survival and the complex range of emotions that result from time travel.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt again delivers a great performance, and is becoming one of my favorite actors (see: 500 Days of Summer, 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises). Looper adds to his impressive and quickly expanding resume, and a fantastic-yet-subtle make-up allows him to look just enough like Bruce Willis without noticing the fake nose.

Willis is equally serviceable as the elder Joe, while Blunt again displays her versatility as a desperate mother. The young Pierce Gagnon's performance is also very good.

Looper will be on many critic's "best" lists at the end of the year, due to its clever premise and imaginative delivery of a clever tale. The ending might not please everyone, but it's an appropriate one.

Parental warning: With kids and time travel involved, don't get the impression Looper is appropriate for children. It's not, with plenty of sex, drugs, graphic violence and language to earn a sold R rating.


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