Movie review: Looper

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From the October 4, 2012 edition

My two-word review of “Looper”? “Like, whoa!” I have seen the future, and the future is good.

Writer-director Rian Johnson takes a pulpy, noir-y run at a high-concept time-travel plot and hits it out of the park. Welcome to this year’s “Inception.”

Spoiler alert! I don’t spoil good stuff, so feel free reading on even if you haven’t seen the movie. I promise.

“Looper” imagines a near-future world where time travel is possible but illegal. Inventive mobsters seize on this as a new means of assassination. Send your target back 30 years in the past where a hired gun called a “looper” will take care of them.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a 25-year-old looper living in 2044. He has a workmanlike detachment to the business … until his next victim is his future self (Bruce Willis).

The concept is enough to make your head spin, but Johnson is a sharp and efficient storyteller. And where he takes this set-up is nothing short of astonishing.

It’s pretty impressive to find a fresh take on the time-travel concept, but Johnson goes a step further. This isn’t just a cool story. It’s a gripping one, full of emotion and characters that are easy to connect with.

Gordon-Levitt gets his brood on — with a little help from some prosthetics to make him look more like a young Willis. Throw in superb action sequences and the noir feel that made Johnson’s first film “Brick” a cult hit.

I’ve already made an “Inception” comparison — and “Looper” may be easier to follow. I’ll throw out the amazing “Children of Men” as another — that’s about as high praise I as give.

Basically, “Looper” is in the running for my favorite movie of the year. I predict my future will involve seeing it again soon.