Combustible Celluloid
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With: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Summer Qing, Tracie Thoms, Frank Brennan, Garret Dillahunt, Nick Gomez, Marcus Hester, Jon Eyez
Written by: Rian Johnson
Directed by: Rian Johnson
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content
Running Time: 118
Date: 06/09/2012

Looper (2012)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer/director Rian Johnson delivers on the promise of his extraordinary debut Brick, with this, his ingenious third film. Looper features an unusual balance of intelligence and thrills, plus visual design, and sharp dialogue. It's complex enough that sci-fi fans can dig deeper over multiple viewings, but thrilling enough that casual viewers can take it all in on a first viewing.

In the year 2042, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a "looper," or a hitman. Whenever gangsters from 30 years in the future want to get rid of someone, they send the victims back in time, where loopers instantly dispatch them (using a "Blunderbuss"), leaving no record of anything. One day Joe is suddenly faced with the task of killing his own older self (Bruce Willis), who unfortunately escapes. Joe learns that the older Joe wants to kill three kids, one of whom will turn into a vicious gangster in the future. In trouble with his bosses, Joe finds himself on a farm, the home of one of those kids, Cid (Pierce Gagnon). He decides to wait there with Cid's mother Sara (Emily Blunt), for the inevitable face-off with himself.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is that actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis don't look much alike, and Gordon-Levitt's makeup doesn't help much. But his performance is exceptional, and eventually the two actors start to seem like their characters. Johnson also adds several little Western touches, including an ineffectual cowboy-like bad guy, and an amazing use of wide-open spaces, stillness, and silence -- as well as a tribute to Shane. The characters are dark, but they each go on fulfilling journeys; the violence actually affects them and changes them in both negative and positive ways. This is the kind of movie Hollywood doesn't make enough of.

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