DIRECTED BY Rian Johnson
STARS Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
The pretzel-twisted thriller Looper may not take us back to the future as satisfyingly as director Robert Zemeckis' Marty McFly trilogy or James Cameron's Terminator franchise, but writer-director Rian Johnson does enough right to all but guarantee that he now has a future cult film on the books. Johnson, who made an attention-grabbing debut with 2005's Brick and followed that with 2008's pleasant The Brothers Bloom, continues to function as Christopher Nolan's Mini-Me, coming up with wildly imaginative movies that (unlike Nolan's) don't quite muster enough power to truly break through.
In Looper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Joe, who in the year 2042 serves as one of a select group of "loopers," paid assassins who eliminate whoever is sent back via time travel from the year 2072 by the ruling mob of that future world. Joe is content and growing ever richer with his blood-splattered career choice, but the day arrives when he finds himself expected to wipe out the 30-years-older version of himself. Old Joe (Bruce Willis) has other plans than just taking a blast to the chest, though, and he manages to escape from his younger self. For his part, Joe winds up at a farm house owned by the strong-willed Sara (Emily Blunt), who's living there with her little boy (Pierce Gagnon). As Joe bides his time until his middle-aged self again shows up on the scene, he comes to care for the woman and child more than he expected.
With the aid of prosthetics, Gordon-Levitt is quite good as he mimics Willis in order to maintain character consistency, and Blunt's performance is more sizable (and more important) than her split-second cameo in the trailer would suggest. The time-travel aspects of Johnson's script don't always flow smoothly, requiring viewers to engage in an even greater suspension of disbelief than normal. Given the premium rush being delivered on screen, though, I don't think that will be a problem.