Looper – 4.5 stars

Hitman Joseph Gordon-Levitt seemingly has the simplest job in the world.  A crime syndicate in the future sends bound targets back in time to a field, where “loopers” like Gordon-Levitt kill and dispose of them.  The loopers get paid in silver until one day, an older version of a looper is sent back to be killed by his younger self.  Strapped to that older version is a pile of gold, the final reward.  When the older Gordon-Levitt is sent back, he is Bruce Willis, and not unexpectedly, Willis thwarts his own execution, and the fun begins.

A blast of a movie, and upon scrutiny, for a time travel film, it does pretty well from a logic standpoint (though some disagree). What matters, however, is that the logic holds up well enough to allow you to be carried away by writer/director Rian Johnson’s fresh and intricate script and his nifty vision of two futures.  The Terminator, for example, was so riveting, you didn’t have the chance to think, “Hey.  Why didn’t Skynet send the Terminator back in time to the hospital where John Connor was born?  Aren’t babies easier to track down and execute?”

Gordon-Levitt is uncanny as a young Willis (they’ve even altered the contours of his face to cement paternity), Willis is gruff Willis, and Emily Blunt (the Brit fashionista assistant in The Devil Wears Prada) is surprisingly convincing in a tough gal role.  Jeff Daniels is a good choice as an off-beat heavy, and Noah Seegan and Garret Dillahunt impress in small roles as the men tasked to hunt Gordon-Levitt and Willis down.  The standout performance, however, belongs to child actor Pierce Gagnon, who manages to be terrifying and then sympathetic.

Johnson’s 2005 noir high California school flick – Brick – was similarly inventive.  Johnson is not exactly prolifiic, but if Looper is the norm, I can wait.

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