Sci-fi action tale about a hitman, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, hired to assassinate victims sent back in time from the future - including an older version of himself, played by Bruce Willis. Playing nationwide September 27.
It comes as a relief that Rian Johnson’s time travel crime-noir Looper attempts to minimise the convoluted mechanics of time travel where it can. The film’s conceptually meaty premise - hitmen called 'loopers' knocking off targets sent from the future - only offers a one-way street, while it also takes a moment to sit its protagonists down to have a tongue-in-cheek exchange about not scrutinising too intensely how it all works (“We'll only end up drawing diagrams on the table with straws”).
The first half of the film zips along like the dream movie Johnson was born to make, jammed with clever ideas and dynamic direction. From the room-silencing blunderbuss bang of the first execution, Looper’s pleasures are plenty: an economically imagined near-future with elements of extreme class divide, genetic mutation and hovering transportation; the surprisingly gruesome consequence of a looper failing to 'close the loop'; the delightfully tense confrontation between Gordon-Levitt’s junkie looper Joe and his older self played by Willis.
Gears shift in the second portion considerably, slackening the kinetic thrills and stranding Young Joe out in a cornfield with Emily Blunt and her weirdo son. It’s tricky to discuss without ruining crucial plot developments, but a search for a master criminal is involved, and if Johnson doesn’t quite have the means to pull off a completely emotional ending, he deserves kudos for taking things into a slightly risky, left-field path that’s all too rare in movies these days.
Gordon-Levitt’s make-up is unnecessarily elaborate, but he does good Willis - maybe even better than Willis himself, whose range seems to have shrunken, if possible, so much over the years that I literally have to turn my head away whenever he emotes.