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Looper Film Review

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Hit Man Turns Fugitive in Riveting Time-Travel Thriller

Dateline: Kansas City, 2042, which is where we find 25 year-old Joseph Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) gainfully-employed as a novel type of hit man called a "looper." The grisly line of work basically involves waiting at a designated clearing in a cornfield for the delivery of a blindfolded kidnap victim involuntarily teleported back in time.

As soon as each person spontaneously materializes, Joe blows them away on the spot with a big blunderbuss, before incinerating the body to eliminate the evidence. This modernistic equivalent of filling cement shoes has become the mob's preferred method of assassination since loopers can commit the perfect crime by killing people who technically don't even exist yet.

Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt speaking at WonderCon 2012 in promotion of Looper. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Despite the great pay, Joe's job has one major drawback, namely, that he will eventually be expected to close his own loop by shooting his future self (Bruce Willis) dead in the killing field. In the interim, he copes with the prospect of committing suicide via drugs and denial, getting high while making plans to retire to France that ostensibly amount to an exercise in futility.

The moment of truth arrives the fateful day he finally finds himself face-to-face with his 55 year-old alter ego. However, Joe is unable to pull the trigger, a failing which doesn't sit well with his short-fused boss (Jeff Daniels) who immediately dispatches an army of thugs to finish off both fugitives.

That is the absorbing premise of Looper, a riveting sci-fi thriller directed by Rian Johnson. The movie marks the third collaboration between him and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a reteaming lending credence to the age-old maxim: three times a charm.

The picture's inscrutable script is as confounding as Chris Nolan's Memento, and visually the production is rather reminiscent of the best of Steven Spielberg. Nice company. Again and again, just when you think you've unraveled the convoluted plot, the story takes yet another intriguing turn into uncharted waters.

Great performances abound here, starting with Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as the same character. Also deserving of accolades in substantial support roles are Paul Dano, Emily Blunt, Piper Perabo and Jeff Daniels.

A mind-bending masterpiece that's a must for more cerebral fans of the time-travel genre.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for profanity, sexuality, nudity, drug use and graphic violence.

Running time: 118 minutes

Distributor: Sony Pictures

To see a trailer for Looper:

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

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